Health supplements company Go Healthy has been fined $337,500 in the Auckland District Court for misleading consumers by claiming its supplements were made in New Zealand.
Key ingredients in the majority of its products were, in fact, imported.
Go Healthy pleaded guilty to the charges under the Fair Trading Act, following a Commerce Commission investigation.
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The charges related to promotional advertising that appeared across TV, social media, billboards, magazines and in stores from December 2014 to December 2018.
The adverts featured the phrase 'New Zealand Made to describe the products, implying that key ingredients originated in New Zealand.
In reality, only eight out of more than 130 Go Healthy products during that time were made exclusively from local ingredients.
While the production process did occur here, the ingredients inside capsules were largely imported.
General Manager of competition and consumer Antonia Horrocks says all businesses must remember that any labelling used on their products must be clear and truthful.
"Consumers are often influenced by the origin of goods when considering whether to buy something; this is particularly so for ingestible products, such as health supplements," Horrocks said.
"Consumers are entitled to rely on the information provided by retailers about where a product originated. GO Healthy breached that trust by misleading its customers with its claims that its supplements were made in New Zealand. For health supplement consumers, where the ingredients have come from is important information.
"If the representations are untrue, they disadvantage competitors. The representations might undermine the benefits to those who are truly able to make the representations that their products are made in New Zealand."
Go Healthy isn't unique among companies to misrepresent the origins of their products.
In July 2019 a New Zealand small goods producer was fined $180,000 for misleading consumers about the place of origin of some of its ham products.
In May 2017 a health supplement company and its owner were fined more than $500,000 for claiming that bee pollen was New Zealand-made when the bee pollen was sourced from China.
And Since 2011 the Commission prosecuted 11 companies and 11 individuals for selling imported alpaca rugs as "Made in New Zealand", and/or for claiming duvets were predominantly alpaca, merino wool or cashmere when they were not. A total of more than $1.5 million in fines had been ordered when the most recent company was fined in 2017.