The ACCC said it issued the infringement notice because it had reasonable grounds to believe Conroy’s made a false or misleading representation about the place of origin of its Breakfast Bacon in contravention of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).
In February 2015, Conroy’s supplied the bacon product, labelled as a ‘Product of Australia’ when in fact it was produced using imported pig meat. The bacon product was supplied in a one-off shipment of 1,020kg to a wholesaler in Western Australia.
In addition to paying a penalty, Conroy’s has also provided a court enforceable undertaking to the ACCC that it will not represent that any of its products are the produce of Australia, unless Australia was the country of origin of each significant ingredient or significant component of the product, and all, or virtually all, processes involved in its production or manufacture happened in Australia.
Conroy’s has also undertaken to publish a corrective notice on its website and establish a competition and consumer compliance program.
“Many consumers have a preference for products that contain locally sourced ingredients and are often prepared to pay a premium for these products,” ACCC chairman Rod Sims said.
“As it is often difficult for consumers to determine where products come from, it is crucial that businesses provide accurate information about the place of origin of the goods that they supply.”
“False claims of this kind not only mislead consumers but can also disadvantage competing suppliers, particularly those who source local ingredients for their products,” Sims said.
The payment of a penalty specified in an infringement notice is not an admission of a contravention of the ACL. The ACCC can issue an infringement notice where it has reasonable grounds to believe a person has contravened certain consumer protection laws.
Conroy’s director, Andrew Conroy, told the Sydney Morning Herald said the shipment of Danish pork had been a one-off. “We made a mistake,” he said.