$5,000 fine for Asian-made KIWI MADE product
Issued 29 July 2002-03/016
Auckland business fined $5,000 for Asian-made KIWI MADE product
Auckland business Elldex Packaging Limited was fined $5,000 plus costs in the Auckland District Court on Friday for breaching the Fair Trading Act in relation to misleading representations about the place of origin of its all-purpose cling film wrap product.
A Commerce Commission investigation revealed that Elldex was using the words KIWI MADE on the packaging of its cling film product when it was in fact imported from both Indonesia and China. The rolls arrive in New Zealand in a carton, labelled and ready to be distributed and sold.
Director of Fair Trading Deborah Battell said that while the country of origin was printed on the carton, by the time they got to the consumer, there was no indication on the individual packs that the product was anything but New Zealand made.
"The use of the words 'Kiwi Made' in connection with the marketing or sale of any product can be a key influence on a consumer's purchasing decision," she said. "Misleading consumers in this way is also unfair to competitors who correctly market the country of origin."
Judge Graham Hubble commented that the presentation of the package was a wilful attempt to persuade consumers the product was made in New Zealand.
"Elldex knew the law, and the attitude of the Commerce Commission, as set out in a warning letter in September 1999."
Elldex has since rebranded its KIWI MADE product to KIWI WRAP. In closing, Judge Hubble remarked "Although it is a side-issue to the sentencing, in my personal opinion, the KIWI WRAP product still has the appearance of a New Zealand-made product and would mislead a consumer."
The Commerce Commission is now assessing the rebranded product.
Background The Commerce Commission recently prosecuted two other businesses for misleading representations relating to the implied origin of goods. Earlier this month, souvenir and tourist retailer, Simply New Zealand, was fined $3,000 for breaching the Fair Trading Act regarding country of origin claims on souvenir t-shirts sold in its Wellington Airport and central Christchurch shops. In March this year, Christchurch souvenir retailer, All Star Trading Limited, was fined a total of $5,200 for similar breaches regarding country of origin claims on t-shirts sold in its two central city stores in Christchurch.