Supermarkets accused of ‘copycat’ packaging on private labels

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 28th November 2011

Australia’s leading supermarket chains have been accused of using “copycat” packaging of leading Australian food brands to mislead consumers into buying the supermarket’s own private label products.

The Australian Food and Grocery Council’s Chief Executive, Kate Carnell, said today that supermarkets are targeting brands with a strong market share and copying their designs as closely as possible without infringing trademark laws.

Private label products are forecast to grow strongly and could more than 40 per cent of total supermarket sales in Australia by 2020, according to a landmark report 2020: Industry at a Crossroads report recently released by AFGC and A.T. Kearney.

The AFGC’s Ms Carnell said that the growth in private labels is making it more difficult for Australian manufacturers to get their food products onto supermarkets shelves.

“In the end, this means consumers will have less choice,” Ms Carnell said. “This copycat strategy could be seen to be confusing consumers into believing they are buying top-selling branded products. Although the products may look similar, the taste and quality can be quite different between branded and private label products.”

AFGC’ call for a Supermarket Ombudsman

The AFGC has repeatedly called for the introduction of a Supermarket Ombudsman, to oversee a Fair Trading Code of Conduct.

Ms Carnell said that within the Code, there should be a requirement for supermarkets not to directly copy packaging to avoid confusion for customers.

“Consumers want to be confident about buying affordable, nutritious food and grocery brands that they know and trust,” she said.