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Kiwifruit pollen not as Kiwi as claimed

Kiwifruit pollen not as Kiwi as claimed

The Commerce Commission has warned kiwifruit pollen supplier Kiwi Pollen (NZ) Limited for potentially misleading its customers about where some of its pollen was from. The Commission alleges Kiwi Pollen was in breach of the Fair Trading Act, which prohibits false or misleading claims about the place of origin of goods.

In September and October 2010, Kiwi Pollen sold pollen imported from Chile, while at the same time making claims that gave its customers the impression that all of its kiwifruit pollen was sourced from New Zealand.

Kate Morrison, the Commission’s General Manager of Competition, said that, although most of Kiwi Pollen’s product was sourced from New Zealand during that time, Kiwi Pollen did not tell its customers when it was also selling them imported pollen.

“In fact Kiwi Pollen’s website continued to give the impression that all of its pollen was collected from properties in New Zealand,” said Ms Morrison.

Ms Morrison said that the company also repackaged the imported pollen, attaching ‘Kiwi Pollen New Zealand’ labels to the new packaging. This reinforced the impression that the pollen was from New Zealand, particularly where there were no clear qualifications on its packaging, advertising material or website that some of its pollen was imported.

“Our investigation showed that kiwifruit growers consider the country of origin of pollen to be very important,” said Ms Morrison.

“Those customers who were supplied imported pollen were not aware of the fact it was imported and were denied the opportunity or ability to make an informed decision about whether to purchase it in the first place.”

In considering what action to take against Kiwi Pollen, the Commission looked at the possible harm caused to customers and competitors by Kiwi Pollen’s conduct. In particular, the Commission looked into allegations that the imported pollen was a potential source of the Pseudomona syringe actinidiae (Psa) outbreak.

“We have examined information from numerous sources and have found there is no conclusive evidence to show that the imported pollen sold by Kiwi Pollen caused the Psa outbreak in New Zealand,” said Ms Morrison.

We are not satisfied that competitors or customers suffered any provable loss or harm as a result of Kiwi Pollen’s conduct. The conduct was short in duration and no longer continues, and it did not appear to be deliberate. For these reasons the Commission has decided to warn Kiwi Pollen rather than prosecute.

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