A local press ad for Arla organic farm milk seen on 30 November 2016 included text which stated “Good for the land” and smaller text underneath stating “helping support a more sustainable future.”
The complainant who believed that dairy farming was not good for the land challenged whether the claim “Good for the land ... helping to support a more sustainable future” was misleading.
Arla Foods Ltd said that the advert referred to an organic product and organic farming methods. They stated that one of the key principles of organic farming was good treatment of the land and that sustainability was at the heart of organic farming, which included the both the use of renewable and the protection of non-renewable resources. They also stated that all of their farms were certified as organic by relevant independent associations.
Arla Foods provided the Soil Association’s organic standards document in support of the claim. They said that the ethos of organic farming revolved around taking great care to look after the land and it was, therefore, good for the land that it was being farmed organically. They also said they took steps across their business in relation to the environment and sustainability which were relevant to the full life cycle of the advertised product. The impact on the environment was considered in every step of the production process.
The ASA considered that consumers would interpret the claim “Good for the land … helping to support a more sustainable future” to mean that the production of the advertised organic farm milk was undertaken in such a way that it would have an overall positive impact on the environment, taking into account its full life cycle. We acknowledged that Arla had provided evidence regarding the organic farming methods used and that they believed this was more sustainable than non-organic farming. However, we did not consider they had substantiated that organic milk production had an overall positive impact on the environment, taking into account its full life cycle. We therefore concluded that the claim was misleading.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.
Marketing communications must not mislead the consumer by omitting material information. They must not mislead by hiding material information or presenting it in an unclear, unintelligible, ambiguous or untimely manner.
Material information is information that the consumer needs to make informed decisions in relation to a product. Whether the omission or presentation of material information is likely to mislead the consumer depends on the context, the medium and, if the medium of the marketing communication is constrained by time or space, the measures that the marketer takes to make that information available to the consumer by other means. (Misleading advertising), 3.7 3.7 Before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that consumers are likely to regard as objective and that are capable of objective substantiation. The ASA may regard claims as misleading in the absence of adequate substantiation. (Substantiation), 11.3 11.3 Absolute claims must be supported by a high level of substantiation. Comparative claims such as "greener" or "friendlier" can be justified, for example, if the advertised product provides a total environmental benefit over that of the marketer's previous product or competitor products and the basis of the comparison is clear. and 11.4 11.4 Marketers must base environmental claims on the full life cycle of the advertised product, unless the marketing communication states otherwise, and must make clear the limits of the life cycle. If a general claim cannot be justified, a more limited claim about specific aspects of a product might be justifiable. Marketers must ensure claims that are based on only part of the advertised product's life cycle do not mislead consumers about the product's total environmental impact. (Environmental Claims).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Arla Foods Ltd to ensure that in future they did not make environmental claims about their products unless they held sufficient substantiation.