Australia’s consumer watchdog has meted out a $10,200 fine to Independent Liquor Group (ILG), creator of a product called ‘Aussie Beer’ that was actually made in China.
Aussie Beer was a private label product developed by NSW-based wholesaler ILG for sale to its trade customers, which include pubs and retailers that belong to its own Little Bottler and Super Cellars banner groups.
“From March 2014 to August 2014, ILG supplied a product named ‘Aussie Beer’, with labelling that incorporated the statement ‘100 per cent owned’ within a map of Australia and the statement ‘Australia’s finest malt’,” the ACCC said.
“The packaging also featured green and gold colours, which are colours closely associated with Australian sporting teams.”
“The ACCC considered that, by its packaging and labelling, ILG represented that its ‘Aussie Beer’ product was a product made in Australia when in fact the product was made in China.”
The ACCC said it had reasonable grounds to believe that ILG had made false or misleading representations about the country of origin of Aussie Beer, in contravention of Australian Consumer Law (ACL).
The prosecution follows last year’s reprimand for Carlton & United Breweries for making false or misleading representations about the Byron Bay Pale Lager product.
“Country of origin representations, particularly those designed to grab the eye of the consumer by using well known symbols, colours, or slogans, must be truthful,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.
“Consumers will often place a premium on the provenance of a product, but are unable to check the accuracy of those claims. This is particularly the case with Australian made products which encourage consumers to support local industries. Consumers are entitled to expect that prominent representations made on packaging are accurate without having to check for disclosures in the fine print.”
We didn’t set out to mislead consumers: ILG
ILG CEO Allen De Costa told Australian Brews News that while the beer was made offshore, it was genuinely 100 per cent Australian-owned and produced using Australian ingredients.
“We didn’t say it was Australian-made, we said it was Australian-owned. The beer clearly stated that it was made in China,” he said.
DeCosta pointed out that many Australian consumers wouldn’t necessarily be aware that many of their favourite beer brands are in fact foreign-owned, or that many foreign brands are brewed locally.
“But at the end of the day we accept the ACCC’s fine and we move on.”
DeCosta said ILG wanted to produce the product locally but found it to be too expensive.
He said the product never sold anyway and had already been deleted before the ACCC even contacted ILG.