6 November 2013
Following the 8th annual Shonky Awards last week, CHOICE launched a ‘People’s Choice Shonkiest Shonky’ poll, inviting members of the public to vote for their favourite shonky.
A total of 2,512 votes were cast in the poll, with ecoeggs declared the winner in a landslide victory, claiming a total of 919 votes.
ecoeggs’ declared stocking density of 20,000 chooks per hectare was more than 13 times the free range limit of 1,500 defined in the national model code of practice.
“ecoeggs met several of the Shonkys criteria through consumer confusion, consumer frustration and plain outrage. The people have spoken, and ecoeggs have been crowned the People’s Choice Shonkiest Shonky,” says CHOICE spokesman Tom Godfrey.
“The Shonky Awards shine a spotlight on products and services that are sneaky, slippery, unscrupulous and sometimes unsafe. While Shonky Award winners may not be breaking laws or breaching regulations, CHOICE believes that consumers deserve better products and services. We think ecoeggs are not all they’re cracked up to be, and it seems people agree.”
ecoeggs contacted CHOICE following the Shonkys and posted a statement on their website rejecting the award, and revealing they had in fact halved their stocking density to 10,000 birds per hectare – but just not told anyone about it yet because they still had cartons with ’20,000’ printed on them.1
CHOICE welcomes any moves that give consumers greater confidence that products carrying premium price tags and claims like ‘free range’ meet their expectations. However, the consumer group says that ecoeggs’ move from over 13 times to almost seven times the ‘model code’ limit for free range shows the urgent need for a consistent, nationally enforceable, science-based standard.2
“With an increasing number of Australians paying a premium based on ‘free range’ claims, CHOICE thinks it’s crucial consumers have confidence they get what they pay for, and an enforceable national standard would achieve that.”
“In November last year the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) provided an initial assessment rejecting a proposal from the egg industry that would have certified up to 20,000 birds per hectare as ‘free range’, saying the rules might ‘mislead or deceive consumers.’3
“At the moment, we have the farcical situation where eggs produced anywhere from less than 750 birds per hectare to over 20,000 are carrying ‘free range’ claims. This is not a case of saying consumers have to buy eggs at 1,500 birds per hectare or lower – but it is a case of ensuring Australians who want to make an ethical purchasing decision don’t get ripped off.”
ecoeggs was the clear People’s Choice Shonkiest Shonky winner, with Energy Australia coming in at second place with 387 votes.
Learn more about free range definitions and CHOICE free range campaigning.
1. You can read ecoeggs statement at http://www.ecoeggs.com.au/blog/2013/10/31/choices-ecoeggs-shonky-award-is-a-beat-up.html
2. The Shonky Award follows CHOICE’s super complaint to NSW Fair Trading in August this year calling on the regulator to investigate misleading ‘free range’ egg claims that have seen consumers paying double the price of cage eggs for products that are unlikely to meet their expectations.
3. Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, ‘Initial assessment of Certification Trade Mark application CTM1390450 filed by the Australian Egg Corporation Limited’, 2 November 2012, accessed at http://www.accc.gov.au/system/files/Initial%20assessment%20of%20Certification%20Trade%20Mark%20application%20-%20Australian%20Egg%20Corporation%20Limited.pdf on 23 October 2013