Tegel and Inghams have been warned not to make misleading representations about the size of their chickens by including stuffing and marinade in their weight.
The Commerce Commission this morning issued warnings to Inghams Enterprises and Tegel Foods, which it said were "likely to have made misleading representations about chicken size".
The commission said that where a size 20 stuffed and marinated chicken had a purported 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.
Commissioner Anna Rawlings said 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.
"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," she said.
The commission said that as a result of its investigation, the Poultry Industry Association of New Zealand (PIANZ) had reviewed labelling standards for fresh whole chickens and changed its approach to sizing.
PIANZ executive director Michael Brooks said the inquiry had led to an industry-led review about how companies reflect weight on packaging.
As a result, the industry "has been working collaboratively both with the Commerce Commission and all poultry companies to communicate this more effectively".
"The Net Weight measurement was a solution that satisfied all parties and we have been working with the major poultry companies to ensure all packaging reflects this."
The commission confirmed that Tegel and Inghams had co-operated in resolving the issues raised, and it accepted that changes had been made to packaging of stuffed and marinated chickens.
Packaging now showed the net weight of the chicken including stuffing and marinade and will no longer feature a size. Consumers may still see existing packaging on the shelves due to the time required for introducing new packaging.
The commission has issued letters of warning to both companies but said it would not be taking further action at this time.
Tegel and Inghams have been sought for comment.