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Company: Hall & Woodhouse Ltd
Breach: No
Final Decision: 13 March 2014

Considered under the 4th Edition of the Code.

Complaint summary

The ABV is given on the front (neck) and back label. The term ‘Beer’ however is only stated on the back label in very small text which is placed amongst other information and the marketing description. There is therefore no clearly obvious statement indicating that the product is a beer, hence the alcoholic nature is not made clear.

Complainant

The Portman Group (acting in lieu of complainant as part of 2012 Code Compliance Audit)

Decision

Under Code paragraph 3.1

The alcoholic nature of a drink should be communicated on its packaging with absolute clarity.

UPHELD

The company’s submission

The company said there were several indicators on the packaging as to the product’s alcoholic nature:

  • The neck label featured a clear ‘alcohol by volume’ strength statement;
  • The back label clearly featured the following information in the same panel of vision:
  • ‘Beer’ declaration
  • The pregnancy warning and Chief medical officers’ daily guidelines for lower-risk consumption
  • The unit alcohol declaration
  • The product’s ABV
  • Drinkaware website address

The company went on to add that the packaging in use at the time of the complaint would not be in circulation after April 2104 and that they had already taken steps to revise the packaging.

The Panel’s assessment

The Panel felt it was essential to consider the overall impression conveyed by taking into account the product as a whole, together with the information provided on the front and back labels.

The Panel noted that the front label did not contain the name of the alcohol type, and featured an illustration of ferrets by a barrel. The Panel felt the image in particular could detract from the communication of the alcoholic nature of the product.

The Panel considered however the product packaging contained several positive visual alcohol cues:

  • shape and size of the bottle;
  • crown-cap;
  • inclusion of the statement ‘alc 4.4% vol’ on the neck label;
  • references to ‘brew’, ‘ale’, ‘inn’ ‘beer’ and the tasting notes in the narrative on the back label;
  • health information on the back label.

In addition to these points, the Panel noted that although the illustration on the front label featured ferrets, they were by a beer barrel, which was arguably another alcohol indicator and featured more prominently than the ferrets.

The Panel felt the positive cues (as mentioned above) were sufficient so as not to confuse a consumer as to the nature of the product contents. In light of this, the Panel concluded that the packaging of Fursty Ferret did not breach Code rule 3.1.

Despite the fact the product was deemed to be acceptable, the Panel welcomed the changes the company was nonetheless prepared to make to the packaging.

Action by company

No action required.