The Advertising Standards Authority has banned an Arla advert which claimed organic milk was ’good for the land’
NFU dairy board chairman Michael Oakes has criticised the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) following its decision to ban an advert by Arla.
The advert, in the local press, included text which stated ’Good for the land’ and smaller text underneath stating “helping support a more sustainable future.”
But ASA received a complaint the advert was misleading.
Mr Oakes has questioned the ASA’s neutrality after it refused to investigate an advert by Go Vegan World which claimed ‘humane milk is a myth’.
“We complained about those vegan adverts and they came back and said there were no grounds for complaint,” he said.
“For Arla to have to pull an ad they had spent a lot of money on it is not good for them and it is not good for the sector.
“Farmers did get in touch for the vegan ads.”
He added farmers all looked after the land.
“If we do not look after the soil, we will not be farming. We are all trying to feed the ground and make sure there are worms in it.
Matt Wilson, senior media relations officer at ASA, said he was disappointed Mr Oakes ‘held that view’.
“Ultimately, we received over 30,000 complaints a year. It is about weighing up very carefully which ones may be in violation. In this case it was.
“It is not about a bias, not anything to do with that. We have various examples of decisions where we have decided with the advertisers.”
He added while the complaint the ‘Humane milk is a myth’ campaign was offensive was closed, ASA were formally investigating several complaints about the campaign ‘on the grounds of misleadingness’.
The ASA ruled the claim was misleading. It said consumers would interpret the claim to mean production of the organic farm milk 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,” it said.
“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.”
An Arla spokesman said: “The ‘Good for the land’ line reflected that one of the key principles of organic farming is ensuring good treatment of the land.
“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, said while saying it was ‘good for the land’ was vague, organic farming did have clear benefits.
“Organic milk contains more beneficial nutrients, and comes from free range cows with the highest standards of animal welfare, on farms with on average 50 per cent more farmland wildlife, that are fed with grass from fields that are not sprayed with pesticides or treated with manufactured fertiliser, and which help combat climate change by storing carbon in the soil.
“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.
He added consumers could ‘be confident’ the ruling did not undermine the benefits of organic milk.