The Commerce Commission says health supplements seller GO Healthy New Zealand Ltd has been fined $337,500 in the Auckland District Court for misleading consumers by claiming its supplements were “made in New Zealand”, when the key ingredients in the majority of its products were imported.
The Commission says GO Healthy pleaded guilty to three charges under the Fair Trading Act, following the Commission’s investigation. The charges related to promotional advertising that appeared across a variety of media, including posters and other in-store advertising materials, magazine advertisements, billboards, websites, social media and national television ads.
The advertising was used from December 2014 until December 2018 and used the phrase “New Zealand Made”. However, only eight out of more than 130 GO Healthy products during that time were made exclusively from ingredients originating in New Zealand. While the production process occurred here, the ingredients inside the capsules were largely imported.
“Consumers are often influenced by the origin of goods when considering whether to buy something; this is particularly so for ingestible products, such as health supplements,” says General Manager Competition and Consumer Antonia Horrocks.
“Consumers are entitled to rely on the information provided by retailers about where a product originated. GO Healthy breached that trust by misleading its customers with its claims that its supplements were made in New Zealand. For health supplement consumers, where the ingredients have come from is important information.”
The Commerce Commission reports that in sentencing Judge Sharp said: “New Zealand made representations may provide a sense of affinity to consumers. They may see products as desirable as a result of being made in New Zealand, and consumers may also see beneficial aspects that they can attribute to the products.”
GO Healthy is a wholesaler of health supplements, selling its products to pharmacies and health stores throughout New Zealand. Since 2018, as a result of previous Commerce Commission action, Go Healthy has amended most of its marketing materials to include the statement ‘New Zealand Made From Imported and Local Ingredients’.