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Clearly talking organic food and farming – ASA and Arla

Date Published: 08/06/2017

Recently the ASA has ruled against Arla on the wording of their advert for organic milk. Within the statement made by the ASA it states the following

The ASA considered that consumers would interpret the claim “Good for the land … helping to support a more sustainable future” to mean that the production of the advertised organic farm milk was undertaken in such a way that it would have an overall positive impact on the environment, taking into account its full life cycle. 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.”

It is clear from the text above that the ASA acknowledge that organic farming methods are more sustainable than non-organic as Arla have substantiated that organic milk has an overall positive impact on sustainability. The issue it would appear is related to the overall life cycle of the product, however, the ASA have made provision for this ruling to be considered further.

OF&G are pleased that the ASA recognise that organic farming is more sustainable (than non-organic farming), however, if all other aspects of organic milk production are equivalent to non-organic then that would suggest that over the life cycle of organic milk it is more sustainable. This clearly requires further consideration and work, however, on this basis OF&G would support efforts to review the ASA’s ruling.

There have been a number of reports on this case including one in the Farmers Weekly reporting that the NFU have accused the ASA of not being consistent.
‘Chairman of the NFU dairy board, Michael Oakes, said the ruling was “baffling”, adding: “It seems to be based on a very narrow reading of the rules.”
“This is doubly frustrating when, in the past, we believe the ASA has given a wide degree of latitude to other advertisers peddling anti-farming extreme views.”
He said all farmers, be they organic or not, would be vexed at the ASA’s decision.

 

The OTB have been in contact with the ASA and OF&G are in discussions with OTB regarding this. We are all working to help get the organic message across with clarity and with accuracy.