ASA Adjudication on Marlow Foods Ltd
Marlow Foods Ltd
10 October 2012
Food and drink
Number of complaints:
Two TV ads for Quorn products:
a. A couple were shown holding a barbecue. The voice-over stated, "You might think eating healthier means eating less of your favourite tasty food. But it doesn't. Try new best ever tasting Quorn chef's selection. Succulent sausages and juicy burgers with only half the saturated fat of some premium sausages and burgers, and all the taste. So for healthier barbies and happier chefs, try new best ever tasting chef's selection from Quorn." The ad featured a pack of sausages being replaced by a pack of Quorn sausages. At the end of the ad pack shots of the products were shown with the on-screen text "FAVOURITE MEALS, MADE HEALTHIER".
b. A woman was shown preparing a meal. The voice-over stated, "You probably think eating less fat means you can't eat lots of your favourite meals. But you can, because new best ever Quorn mince has 80% less saturated fat than lean mince beef. So even when you're watching what you eat, with Quorn you can keep on eating all your favourite meals made healthier." The ad featured a packet of beef mince being replaced by a packet of Quorn mince. At the end of the ad a pack shot of the product was shown with the on-screen text "FAVOURITE MEALS, MADE HEALTHIER".
Four viewers objected that the ads were misleading, because they compared Quorn products to meat but did not make clear that Quorn was a meat-free product.
Marlow Foods Ltd (Marlow Foods) said their products had been on sale in the UK for over 25 years and Quorn had become widely recognised as a provider of vegetarian foods. They said their current brand awareness was 92%, and provided survey data to support this. They said that taking into account the age of the brand and the market in which it operated, the average consumer would recognise an ad for Quorn products to be for meat-free food. They did not consider the fact that Quorn products were meat-free to be material information that needed to be included in the ads. They said they had run a number of TV ads before that did not state Quorn was meat-free, and had not received any complaints.
Marlow Foods did not consider it was misleading to compare their products to meat products as they were comparing them to products that were 'alternatives for consumption'. They referred to EU legislation and guidance in relation to nutrition and health claims, and said these required comparative claims to compare the composition of the advertised food against that of a range of foods of the same category, which included 'alternatives for consumption', rather than just foods belonging to a specific food category. They believed the comparisons made in the ads were more than fair as in ad (a) they compared their products to premium sausages and burgers, whereas the difference in fat content between their products and standard sausages and burgers would have been even higher. In ad (b) they compared their product to lean beef mince, whereas the difference in fat content between their product and standard beef mince would have been even higher.
Clearcast endorsed Marlow Food's response. They also believed that because the Quorn products were all edible products used for the same purpose (as part of a main meal) as the meat products they were compared to, the comparison was fair and the ad did not need to state the products were meat free. They said the products that were being compared had similar nutritional content, apart from the levels of saturated fat. They believed the comparison being made would be clear to consumers.
The complainants believed the ads were misleading because they compared Quorn products to meat but did not make clear that Quorn was a meat-free product. They were also concerned that it was not a fair comparison to make. The ASA acknowledged that for some consumers, whether or not a product contained meat would have a strong bearing on their decision to purchase, and that the products featured in the ad resembled meat products. However, we considered that Quorn was an established and well-known brand of vegetarian products. The brand awareness data supplied by Marlow Foods showed that 92% of participants were aware of the Quorn brand, and had been weighted so that the proportion of vegetarians mirrored that in the general population. We considered that the average consumer would be aware that the ads were for meat-free products.
The BCAP Code required comparative nutrition claims to compare the difference in the claimed nutrient to a range of foods of the same category which do not have the composition that allows them to bear a nutrition claim. EC guidance clarified that these food categories include 'alternatives for consumption'. We considered that the purpose of the Quorn products featured in the ads, as the main part of a meal, meant they were alternatives to meat, and so it was valid to compare their nutritional properties to meat. The ads also made clear which meat products the Quorn products were being compared to. We also understood that lean mince and premium sausages and burgers would not be able to make a "low in saturated fat" claim. On that basis, we considered that the comparison was fair.
We concluded that, because it presented Quorn sausages and burgers as an alternative to meat sausages and burgers and made accurate claims about the relative quantity of saturated fat, the ads were not misleading.
We investigated the ads under BCAP Code rules 3.1 and 3.2 (Misleading advertising), 3.38 (Other comparisons) and 13.5.1 (Food, food supplements and associated health or nutrition claims) but we did not find them in breach.
No further action necessary.