Advertising watchdog ruled the ‘basis of environmental claims’ must be made clear
An advert for an almond beverage has been banned because it makes a “misleading” claim that it is “good for the planet”.
The ban on the poster, which promotes Alpro almond, oat and plain products, comes after the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said last month it would shine a “greater regulatory spotlight” on environmental claims.
The advert appeared on the side of a bus last October and read: “Next stop. Your recipe to a healthier planet!” and “Good for the planet, Good for you!”
According to ASA, a complainant who believed commercial almond farming causes harm to the environment challenged whether Alpro’s “good for the planet” claim was misleading and could be substantiated.
Alpro argued that customers would understand that the claims refer to plant-based products having a lower environmental impact compared to dairy-based products.
It told the ASA that although almond crops require more water than soy or oats, the impact on land use and greenhouse gas emissions remains very small, adding that the environmental impact of almond drinks is much lower than cows’ milk.
Alpro added that its almonds are grown in full accordance with the EU policy to protect bees and pollinators – the policy is one of the strictest regulatory systems in the world concerning the approval of pesticides.
Although the ASA said it understands that almonds used by Alpro are not sourced from areas where almond productions could have a negative impact on the environment, it said advertising rules require that the basis of environmental claims must be clear.
The advertising watchdog added that unqualified claims can mislead if they leave out significant information.
“We acknowledged that Alpro had provided analysis in order to demonstrate the environmental impact of two of the three featured products across their lifecycle,” it said.
“We noted that the analysis provided in relation to Alpro’s oat drink did not assess the environmental impact of that product’s entire lifecycle, including, for example, transport, packaging and retail.
“However, because we considered it was not clear what the basis of the claim ‘Good for the planet’ was, we concluded the ad was misleading and breached the Code.”
It ruled that the ad must not appear again in the form it was complained about, adding: “We told Alpro to ensure that the basis of environmental claims was clear.”
The watchdog announced in September that, following a review of its rules and guidance, it found that “there is significant scope for businesses to make mistakes, and to mislead, when making environmental claims”.
“We’re signalling that we intend to go further, to crack down on misleading and socially irresponsible environmental advertising and to do so in the context framed by government and key priorities identified by experts,” said the ASA.