New Zealand Law Society - Chicken producers warned over actual weights

Chicken producers warned over actual weights

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Poultry producers Inghams Enterprises (NZ) PTY Ltd and Tegel Foods Ltd have been issued with warnings by the Commerce Commission over packaging representations about the size of chickens.

The Commission says it considered that Inghams and Tegel were likely to have made the misleading representations about chicken size by including stuffing and marinade in the weight of chickens.  

Information supplied to the Commission showed that where a size 20 stuffed and marinated chicken had a specified weight range of 1.9kg to 2.1kg, the weight range of the chicken itself - known as the “drop weight” – was typically 1.6kg to 1.7kg.  At one factory the weight range began as low as 1.51kg.

“In our view, consumers were likely to believe the size prominently displayed on the chicken was a representation about the weight of the chicken itself without stuffing and marinade,” Commissioner Anna Rawlings says.

“This was not the case and even though the net weight was displayed in small font underneath the chicken size, we do not believe this was sufficient to correct the overall impression given.”

As a consequence of the Commission’s investigation, the Poultry Industry Association of New Zealand (PIANZ) has reviewed labelling standards for fresh whole chickens and has changed its approach to sizing.

The Commissions says Tegel and Inghams co-operated in resolving the issues raised, and it accepts that changes have been made to packaging of stuffed and marinated chickens.

Packaging now shows the net weight of the chicken including stuffing and marinade. It will no longer feature a size. Consumers may still see existing packaging on the shelves due to the lead time required for introducing new packaging.

The Commission says it has issued letters of warning to both companies and will not be taking further action.

Note that the Commission made changes to its earlier release on this matter but did not issue a new release. The changes were brought to the Law Society's attention by the Poultry Industry Association.

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