A Hawke's Bay family-owned organic chicken business says it is taking legal action over the fictitious characters used by an NZ chicken giant in its branding.
Bostock Brothers Organic Free Range Chicken says Brinks is imitating its labelling and is in breach of the Fair Trading Act for misrepresenting consumers.
Three months ago, Brinks, which is a large-scale chicken operation, launched a free-range chicken brand called George and Jo's.
The branding and packaging include an image of George and Jo. But they are fictitious characters and do not exist.
George Bostock, one of the Bostock Brothers, says Brinks is representing to consumers that George and Jo's is a small family business, when it is actually a large-scale commercial operation.
"By using the word 'George' to represent the fake people, they are causing confusion and deception in the marketplace," George said.
That is hurting the Bostock brand and business, he said.
"We have worked really hard to build trust and respect for our ethical farming practises.
"We are the faces behind our brand and feel it's really unfair that a large chicken producer is trying to imitate what we do and mislead consumers."
George and Ben set up their business five years ago. The brothers raise the chickens themselves in small chalets on an organic apple orchard, where the chickens roam freely among the trees.
Van Den Brink Group representative Michael Sheridan told Seven Sharp the Brinks brand was not misleading anyone and the people on the package were a representation of its farmers.
"The reality is the farms do exists - they are just a representation of real people and real farmers," Sheridan said.
In a statement from Brinks it said:
"We have told customers that George and Jo represent the actual farmers through advertising and on the website and the chickens used are all free range and antibiotic free."
Ben Bostock says he welcomes competition but Brinks should use the names of its farmers on its branding.
They plan to take legal action, which Sheridan said Brinks felt comfortable it could fight.
"We have taken legal advice on this and we think we are well within our right."