A company claiming two dietary supplements were “100% New Zealand made” has been pulled up by the High Court for misleading consumers.
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New Zealand Nutritionals (2004) Limited claimed its Vitafit Goats’ Milk Powder and Pro-life Goats’ Milk and Calcium Tablets were “100% New Zealand made”. But all the active ingredients in the products, including the goats’ milk powder, were imported.
The company argued the claims weren’t misleading because the manufacturing process had occurred in New Zealand. It also said statements on the product label were not representations about where the goat’s milk powder was sourced.
However, the High Court dismissed these arguments and granted declarations under the Fair Trading Act the claims were misleading. Justice Venning said a reasonable person would assume from the label that the product was made from New Zealand goats’ milk that had been processed into powder in New Zealand.
The Commerce Commission, which sought the declarations, said the judgment was important particularly as country of origin claims are of increasing concern.
The commission’s general counsel Mary-Anne Borrowdale said it had previously raised issues about country of origin labelling with the natural products industry “some of whom had taken a different view about what ‘made in New Zealand’ means. This ruling puts businesses on notice that they must be able to substantiate any claims they make about the country of origin of their products.”
“Consumers are influenced in their purchasing decisions by ‘made in New Zealand’ claims. Products that are represented as ‘made in New Zealand’ are also particularly appealing to tourists. We are very pleased that the judge agreed that these dietary supplements, which are only mixed and packaged here, are not made in New Zealand,” she said.
New Zealand Nutritionals sold products with the misleading labels to health stores and supermarkets between 2008 and 2013. The products are now being sold by a new company and have been relabelled.
New Zealand Nutritionals has 20 working days to file an appeal against the judgement.