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Arla says dairy farming is good for land, watchdog doesn't agree

Staff Writer |
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned an advert by Arla Foods following complaints over an apparent suggestion that dairy farming is good for the environment.

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The Danish cooperative, which has its UK base in West Yorkshire, took out a local press advert in November 2016, in which it claimed dairy farming is “good for the land” and is “helping support a more sustainable future.”

On Wednesday, the ASA upheld a complaint that the advert was misleading.

The ad attracted complaints over the claim that dairy farming is “good for the land.” Arla highlighted in its defence that the advert was for an organic product.

The company said one of the key principles of organic farming is good treatment of the land and that sustainability is at the heart of organic farming, which includes both the use of renewable and the protection of non-renewable resources.

Seeking to back up its advert, Arla also said the cooperative makes efforts across its whole business in relation to the environment and sustainability.

However, the advertising watchdog was not convinced and ruled that the wording of the advert would lead the public to think Arla’s products are having a net positive impact on the environment.

ASA said, “We acknowledged that Arla had provided evidence regarding the organic farming methods used and that they believed this was more sustainable than non-organic farming.

“However, we did not consider they had substantiated that organic milk production had an overall positive impact on the environment, taking into account its full life cycle. We therefore concluded that the claim was misleading.”

ASA found that the ad breached five sections of the CAP code binding advertisers, relating to making misleading claims, substantiating claims and making claims about environmental credentials.

In a statement on the ruling on Wednesday, ASA said, “The ad must not appear again in its current form.

We told Arla Foods Ltd to ensure that in future they did not make environmental claims about their products unless they held sufficient substantiation.”

On Wednesday, an Arla spokesperson said, “The ‘Good for the land’ line reflected that one of the key principles of organic farming is ensuring good treatment of the land.

“According to the Soil Association, organic farming methods offer the best, currently available, practical model for addressing climate-friendly food production. We are disappointed by the decision but we will respect the ruling and have no intention to reuse the specific advert.”

Martin Sawyer, chief executive of Soil Association Certification, commented on the ruling, “While saying farming is 'good for the land’ is rather vague, organic farming does have clear benefits beyond other systems.

“Soil Association Certification did not advise Arla directly on the wording in this case and as the ruling shows, it is really important to work with us and the ASA on all claims and statements.”

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