A website for Butternut Box dog food, www.butternutbox.com, seen on 29 June 2018, featured text which stated "Fresh, home-cooked meals. Perfectly portioned. Delivered to your door".
The complainant challenged whether the claim "home-cooked meals" was misleading.
Dogmates Ltd t/a Butternut Box said their business originated in a home kitchen where their recipes were developed and it would be possible to recreate their dishes using equipment designed for use in the home. At the time of the complaint, their production was done in a rented kitchen and all their meals were run in small batches, with each part of the process being completed by hand. They said the kitchen was specifically designed for small-food businesses to run and scale up their production.
Butternut Box said their dog food could clearly be distinguished from the categories of wet (canned) food and dry food, which were not possible to produce at home. It could also be distinguished from raw dog food as they minced their meats and mixed them with their dry ingredients, filled them into a sealed pouch and gently cooked the food. They said their food did not belong to any of those existing categories of dog food; they felt "home-cooked" was the most appropriate way to describe their food.
Butternut Box provided the results of a survey they ran by asking 500 dog owners what language could be used to describe their product. They proposed to amend their website so that the claim was qualified on the home page. They also proposed to create a page that provided further information on their product, which included an explanation on how the food was produced.
The ASA considered that consumers would interpret the term “home-cooked” to mean that Butternut Box’s products were prepared within a residential kitchen.
We considered the evidence provided by Butternut Box. We acknowledged the process followed in the preparation of the food and the fact that each step was completed by hand. We also recognised that they sought to differentiate their product from other types of dog food available on the market. However, the product was produced in a rented commercial kitchen and while the processes used could all be replicated in a residential kitchen, the commercial environment in which the food was produced was not one that consumers would readily associate with the claim “home-cooked”.
We noted the survey conducted by Butternut Box. The results showed that 207 of 500 participants described their food as “home-cooked” or “homemade”. However, participants were only shown images of the food and an explanation that it was dog food sold online. Participants were not shown how the food was produced and the results showed that the majority in fact described the food as something other than “home-cooked” or “homemade”.
While we welcomed Butternut Box’s attempts to provide further clarification on the product on their website, we did not consider their proposed amendments sufficient to alter the overall impression that the food was produced in a residential kitchen.
Therefore, because Butternut Box’s product was not prepared in a residential kitchen, we considered the claim “home-cooked” 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) and 3.11 3.11 Marketing communications must not mislead consumers by exaggerating the capability or performance of a product. (Exaggeration).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Dogmates Ltd t/a Butternut Box to ensure that their future advertising did not mislead by implying a product was created in a home kitchen when that was not the case.