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Fertmark Statement On Comparative Advertising

The Executive Director of the Fertiliser Quality Council has requested that a specific advertising programme for one product marketed by Ballance Agri-Nutrients Ltd be discontinued.

Fertmark is responsible to farmers and the fertiliser industry for the provision of independent fertiliser quality assurance. As well Fertmark is also charged on behalf of farmers and the industry to ensure that any comparative advertising of fertiliser products is both fair and factual.

In announcing this decision Fertmark Executive Director Kevin Geddes said that the advertising material compared the Ballance Agri-Nutrients Ltd. product CropZeal 14-12-12, with Ravensdown Fertiliser Co-operative Ltd product, Nitrophoska 12-10-10. Mr. Geddes acknowledged that the Ballance Agri Nutrients advertising campaigns were of a limited duration.

"This was a new product to the New Zealand market, and while in many respects could be compared to existing products, Fertmark was of the view that because the physical characteristics of the product were different in some minor respects direct comparisons were not strictly appropriate. No problems were found with the claimed nutrient analysis or its efficacy."

Mr. Geddes said that the issue had been raised with Fertmark from a complaint by Ravensdown Fertiliser Co-operative Ltd. From that point Fertmark had employed its disputes procedures contained within the Fertmark Code of Practice, where there is a specific code for the conduct of advertising and promotion. In accordance with this code the services of an independent authority with expert knowledge in fertiliser was used to advise the Fertmark Executive in seeking to resolve this matter fairly.

"It is particularly important when engaging in comparative advertising that any new product has been tested sufficiently to ensure that field performance is consistent with promotional claims, before any direct comparisons with other products are made."

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