Court declares Arnott’s biscuit packaging misleading

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 30th April 2008

Packaging of a number of Arnott’s biscuits in the Snack Right range have been declared to be misleading under final orders obtained by consent from the Federal Court, following Australian Competition and Consumer Commission action.The Federal Court declared that Arnott’s Biscuits Limited breached the Trade Practices Act 1974 by engaging in conduct likely to be false, misleading or deceptive in relation to the packaging and labelling of the following Snack Right products:

  • Snack Right Apple & Blackberry Fruit Pillow
  • Snack Right Wild Berry Fruit Pillow
  • Snack Right Apricot Fruit Slice
  • Snack Right Apricot and Yoghurt Fruit Slice, and
  • Snack Right Mixed Berry Fruit Slice.

The court declared that the Snack Right packaging falsely conveyed to consumers an overall impression that the filling in the biscuits consisted predominantly of the fruits referred to in the name of the product and depicted on the packaging. In fact, the biscuit filling consisted mainly of other fruits, such as sultanas.

For example the Apple and Blackberry fruit pillow biscuit filling contains approximately 1.7 per cent blackberry concentrate in comparison to 38.8 per cent sultanas, 12.9 per cent apple concentrate and 8.6 per cent dried apple concentrate. The packaging describes this product as being ‘crammed with apples, blackberries and sultanas’.

The Apricot Fruit Slice filling also contains approximately 1.7 per cent apricot, but this is in comparison to 64.8 per cent sultanas and 10.5 per cent apple juice.
“This outcome is a strong reminder to the food and beverage industry and those responsible for food labelling that the overall impression is important,” ACCC Chairman, Mr Graeme Samuel, said. “Businesses must ensure that the key principles of misleading and deceptive conduct are considered during the design stage of product packaging. In particular thought must be given to how a consumer may interpret the labelling representations.

“The ACCC Food Descriptors Guideline reiterates this view. If food featured in a product name or pictured on a label only constitutes a small percentage of the product, it may be inappropriate to give it a disproportionably large emphasis as consumers may be misled about the composition of the product.”

Arnott’s has undertaken to the court that it will:

  • amend the packaging of the Snack Right products
  • refrain from similar conduct in the future, and
  • publish a corrective notice on its website

Arnott’s has further agreed to review its trade practices law compliance program and agreed to contribute to the ACCC’s legal costs.