ACCC accepts brewery undertaking on ‘misleading’ beer labelling
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has accepted a court enforceable undertaking from Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) following concerns that CUB incorrectly represented that Byron Bay Pale Lager was brewed by a small brewer in Byron Bay.
CUB has also paid two Infringement Notices to the value of $20,400.
In 2013, CUB began supplying Byron Bay Pale Lager with labelling that incorporated the name Byron Bay Pale Lager, a pictorial representation of a lighthouse, text regarding Byron Bay and a map of the Byron Bay region showing the location of the Byron Bay Brewing Company. However, the beer was brewed by CUB at its brewery in Warnervale, some 630km away from Byron Bay.
The Byron Bay Brewing Company is a small brewery that, via its parent, licensed to CUB the right to supply Byron Bay Pale Lager Australia wide. The Byron Bay Brewing Company only brews Byron Bay Pale Lager for sale on tap at its site in Byron Bay.
“Many small brewers cater to consumers who prefer to support small, niche businesses,” said ACCC Chairman Rod Sims. “When large companies portray themselves as small businesses, it undermines the unique selling point that such small businesses depend upon, and it misleads consumers,” he said.
“The ACCC will be writing to other participants putting them on notice of this matter in order to ensure that marketing and labelling in the beer market appropriately reflects where and by whom beer is brewed,” Mr Sims said.
In providing the enforceable undertaking, CUB acknowledged that the labelling may have misled consumers. CUB has agreed to cease distribution of product with the misleading labelling. More generally, CUB has undertaken that it will not make false or misleading representations concerning the scale of the brewery in which its products are brewed or the place of origin of its products.
CUB will place corrective notices on its website and in trade publications, and it will also provide a corrective notice for retailers to display at point-of-sale.
“This is an outcome that protects the interests of both beer buyers and small brewers.” Mr Sims said.