Ruffled feathers in chicken-free chicken spat

by Rob O'Neill / 16 November, 2017
RelatedArticlesModule - Sunfed

 The picture of the chicken on Sunfed Meat's Chicken free Chicken box has drawn the ire of the Poultry Industry Association. Photo / supplied

The poultry industry is crying foul over the way a new plant-based chicken product is being presented to consumers.

Sunfed Meats has found a willing market for its new “chicken free chicken” plant-based protein product, but the start-up is already facing a stoush with the poultry industry.

The New Zealand Poultry Industry Association is asking the Commerce Commission to look at whether Sunfed’s packaging and presentation of the product is misleading under the Fair Trading Act.

Sunfed founder Shama Lee is not impressed – especially as no consumers have actually complained.

“Look, we are a small Kiwi start-up that is all about empowering the consumer with new choices,” Lee says.

“To suggest consumers won’t know they are buying Sunfed chicken instead of animal chicken is selling them a bit short.

“I think we should call this what it is: a big industry showing its strength to a small start-up who have just been in the market for three months.”

Lee said the packaging was signed off by lawyers before launch.

“Obviously we are very happy to work with the Commerce Commission in good faith. We are not about misleading anyone.”

New Zealand Poultry Industry Association boss Michael Brooks says the complaint is not because Sunfed is having any market impact.

“We have record numbers of people eating real chicken,” he says. “We’re at 41.5kgs a person a year. That’s not the issue.

“It has a picture of a chicken on the front. It refers to ‘meaty chunks’ and in our view it’s not meat. You have a picture of a chicken but you're advertising a product that is not chicken.”

Brooks says there are regulations and the complaint is about making sure everyone is sticking to them.

“We are asking what are the laws and regulations in this context,” Brooks says.

“It seems a curious one when we have real chicken and then you have a synthetic product but with a picture of a chicken on the front and calling it chicken. That’s our enquiry.”

The association is also asking whether the product complies with labelling requirements in the ANZ Food Standards Code. Unlike in some overseas jurisdictions, the code is not prescriptive about the use of particular words such as “chicken” but does require labelling to be accurate.

Lee says the packaging clearly says “chicken free” and “clean lean plant protein” right in the front.

“I feel pretty confident we haven’t violated anything.”

“No one from the poultry industry has ever come to me to discuss this in good faith, instead they've opted to threaten in the media on taking us to the Commerce Commission and Ministry of Primary Industries.

“Frankly, it's a bully tactic. Yes we're the small vulnerable guys here, but we have full trust in the consumer to see this for what it is.”

 

Follow Noted on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Latest

The drama and the trauma behind NZ musician Shayne Carter's rise to the top
107207 2019-06-15 00:00:00Z Music

The drama and the trauma behind NZ musician Shayne…

by Mike White

Shayne Carter’s career has been wild and acclaimed. But his just-released memoir reveals the drama and trauma going on behind the scenes.

Read more
Rare photos of the Straitjacket Fits by Brian Murphy
The Handmaid's Tale is so chilling, you risk hypothermia
107150 2019-06-15 00:00:00Z Television

The Handmaid's Tale is so chilling, you risk hypot…

by Diana Wichtel

Season three of The Handmaid’s Tale packs a punch, despite some implausible scenes, writes Diana Wichtel.

Read more
Christchurch mosque attacks: Accused pleads not guilty to all charges
107204 2019-06-14 00:00:00Z Crime

Christchurch mosque attacks: Accused pleads not gu…

by Anneke Smith

The man accused of the Christchurch terror attacks has pleaded not guilty to all the charges laid against him.

Read more
One thing is certain: Political biffo is unavoidable in NZ Parliament
107183 2019-06-14 00:00:00Z Politics

One thing is certain: Political biffo is unavoidab…

by Bevan Rapson

Despite overdue efforts to improve Parliament's culture, political biffo will always be with us.

Read more
The sweeping proposal to lower speed limits is on the skids – it's a good thing
107144 2019-06-14 00:00:00Z Social issues

The sweeping proposal to lower speed limits is on…

by The Listener

Transport officials’ enthusiasm for a sweeping lowering of speed limits looks set to go the way of the once-proposed ban on cats in dairies.

Read more
Are New Zealand's intelligence agencies watching the right people?
107185 2019-06-14 00:00:00Z Social issues

Are New Zealand's intelligence agencies watching t…

by Phil Pennington

New Zealanders who feel they've done nothing wrong have found themselves under surveillance by the state and say they've been left nervous.

Read more
Never Look Away: A flawed masterpiece about life in WWII-era Germany
107122 2019-06-14 00:00:00Z Movies

Never Look Away: A flawed masterpiece about life i…

by James Robins

Epic drama captures an artist navigating the upheavals of Nazi and post-war Germany.

Read more