News Items

by Simon Lord

last updated 29/10/2019

Hell Pizza formally warned over fake meat

by Simon Lord

last updated 29/10/2019

2 October 2019 – The Commerce Commission has warned Hell Pizza that its advertising of the “Burger Pizza” was, in the Commission’s view, likely to have breached the Fair Trading Act 1986.

Following an earlier decision not to take action from the Ministry for Primary Industries, the Commerce Commission announced in a media release yesterday: 

The Commission considers that the overall impression conveyed to consumers by Hell Pizza’s initial advertising was that the product comprised meat, when in fact the patty was made from plant-based protein.

‘In the Commission’s view. by describing the product as a “burger pizza” which was “loaded with chunks of medium-rare burger patty”, Hell has likely made false or misleading representations about the kind and/or composition of goods offered for sale,’ said Stuart Wallace, the Commission’s Head of Consumer.

The Commission received a number of complaints about the Hell Pizza promotion after it began on 21 June. On 25 June the advertising was amended to ‘medium-rare Beyond Meat™ burger patty.’ Several complainants said they believed the Burger Pizza included meat.

‘A burger traditionally includes a patty of minced beef, though it can be made of other ingredients. Here the patty was referred to as “medium-rare” which is a term associated with meat, usually beef, indicating how thoroughly cooked it is.  There was no reference to the patty being vegetarian or plant-based,’ said Mr Wallace.

‘All businesses should note that what they don’t say can be as important as what they do say, in making representations that may breach the Fair Trading Act. The overall impression created matters,’ he said.

After weighing Hell Pizza’s conduct against our Enforcement Criteria, the Commission has decided that a warning is the appropriate response.

‘We note that the conduct was short in duration and that Hell has ceased to offer the Burger Pizza. Hell told the Commission it does not intend to engage in this sort of promotion again and will seek legal advice before launching future campaigns,’ said Mr Wallace.

Warning letter

The warning letter, which has been published on the Commission’s case register, says:

‘After weighing up the factors set out in our Enforcement Response Guidelines, we have decided it is appropriate and sufficient to conclude our investigation by issuing this warning letter rather than commencing legal proceedings.

In reaching our enforcement decision, we have considered the short duration of the conduct, and the fact that Hell has ceased offering the Burger Pizza. We also understand that the potential harm resulting from the conduct has already been considered by the Ministry for Primary Industries. Hell has told the Commission it has no intention to engage in this type of campaign again and will seek legal advice before launching campaigns in the future to ensure it complies with the law.

While we will not be taking any further action against Hell at this time, we will take this warning into account if this conduct continues or if you engage in similar conduct in the future. We may also draw this warning to the attention of a court in any subsequent proceedings brought by the Commission against Hell.

 We recommend you seek legal advice on complying with the law and encourage you to regularly review your compliance procedures and policies. This warning letter is public information and will be published.’

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