The Flower Farm must definitively change its packaging. The deforestation claim on its ‘butter without palm oil’ is misleading. The Board of Appeal confirmed on appeal that the text on the margarine packaging EAT PLANTS, NOT PALM PLEASE is inaccurate. The Board of Appeal is even stricter than the Advertising Code Committee, which considered the campaign of the new margarine brand to be misleading, incorrect and too simplistic. According to the Board, The Flower Farm’s marketing campaign makes consumers averse to margarine with palm oil on the basis of incorrect arguments. In the Netherlands, all margarine is deforestation-free, because all palm oil in the margarine is sustainable and RSPO-certified. The Board values the support that many NGOs give to RSPO certification: they have no commercial interest, only an idealistic interest in nature preservation. The claim that entire jungles are deforested cannot be substantiated by The Flower Farm. Deceptive by definition, according to the Board. This has now brought the entire advertising campaign of The Flower Farm (website, social media, TVC) to a halt, including the packaging.
If there is a general conclusion to be drawn from this: a free-from-claim brings with it very big legal challenges. Not only must the text about the own product be completely correct and not misleading. But also – and in all respects – the objections formulated about the ingredient that has been highlighted negatively must be 100% correct. That does not prove easy.
Ebba Hoogenraad represented the European Palm Oil Alliance in the proceedings.