A company that sold a product made from royal jelly imported from China, with labels that implied the product was made in New Zealand, has been fined $15,000 in the Auckland District Court.

New Zealand Natural Care Products Limited (NZ Natural) entered guilty pleas to two charges of breaching the Fair Trading Act yesterday.

Both charges relate to making false or misleading representations concerning the place of origin of goods.

Royal jelly, a secretion from honey bees, is claimed to have a variety of health benefits.

New Zealand royal jelly is believed to be of a higher quality, recording higher readings of the active ingredient 10HDA than overseas sourced product, and therefore attracts a premium price.

The Commission's prosecution related to NZ Natural's Pure and Natural Royal Jelly product sold in its Auckland store in 2008 and 2009.

The product is made from royal jelly imported from China, which is mixed with water and placed in capsules.

The only New Zealand ingredients in the product are the capsule and the water.

However, in 2008 the product label stated "Best health products a trademark of New Zealand Natural Care Products Limited" and then in 2009 the defendant company added another label to the product stating "Best Health Products New Zealand", with these words encircling a map of New Zealand, and the phrase "Premium Quality Dietary Supplement".

There was no reference anywhere on the product's label that the key ingredient, royal jelly, was sourced from China.

"Consumers purchasing royal jelly are likely to pay a premium for the higher quality New Zealand product. With products such as this, consumers rely on the label being truthful and accurate as they have no other means of proving the origin of the product.

"In this case the labels were misleading and are likely to have induced consumers to believe they were paying for a superior New Zealand-made product when they were not," said Greg Allan, Commerce Commission Fair Trading Manager, Wellington.

"Misleading country of origin labelling not only harms the consumers who are deceived, but also harms competitors in the industry who label their products correctly," Allan said.

"The main market for royal jelly is in Asia. NZ Natural markets itself to foreign visitors, which also harms New Zealand's image as a place to confidently buy products made from premium New Zealand ingredients."