Nestlé changes 'misleading' marketing over no-meat beef soup

© iStock/Alleko

Nestlé has removed a picture of fresh beef from the packaging of its dried beef and carrot soup - which did not contain any beef - following a two-year campaign by industry watchdog Foodwatch over misleading marketing.

The product, which had been marketed as traditional carrot and beef vermicelli soup, contains 1.1% beef dripping, which Foodwatch said was misleading to consumers.

It also argued that the ingredients list, which contains taste enhancers glutamate, disodium inosinate and disodium guanylate, would not be considered ‘traditional’ by most consumers.

“If there is no, or very little, beef in the soup we consider that Nestle should not depict meat on the packaging. As long as a recipe does not conform with a genuine ‘traditional ['a l’anciennce'] recipe - an expression whose usage is regulated – the product should not allude to it,” argued Foodwatch.

When Foodwatch raised this point with Nestlé, the company responded that the soup was marketed as having a ‘traditional flavour’ and not traditional.

Foodwatch originally drew attention to the misleading marketing back in 2014 with a campaign petitioning the company to change the packaging that received a total of almost 15,000 signatures.

Nestlé did change the packaging in 2015 but its new-look soup still bore a prominent picture of beef and carrots.

It has since removed this, and has added the word ‘bouillon’ [stock] to the front of the pack.

'No will to mislead'

A spokesperson for Nestlé told FoodNavigator the company had taken on board feedback from both Foodwatch and consumers. “There was no will to mislead consumers. It was not a matter of pressure but we tried to take into account the voice of Foodwatch and consumers.”

“Maggi has been undergoing continuous improvement of its soups for five years and the main axis of this has been salt, fat and sugar reduction."

As the product is a stock, it would not have been appropriate to add meat to the recipe, the spokesperson said.

Information director at Foodwatch France Ingrid Kragl said the result was a victory for consumers. “People do not accept to be cheated. Unfortunately these misleading practices are still legal. Foodwatch fights for making these illegal. Consumers have the right to know what they are eating; the labelling must be honest and transparent,” she said.

It has an on-going campaign entitled ‘Legal tricks’ through it which it has challenged France’s Directorate-General for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Prevention of Fraud (DGCCRF) to take on its responsibilities.

Name and shame

“By naming and shaming, Foodwatch highlights the practices of the agri-food sector but also draws the politicians [and] authorities’ attention to the issues.”

Indeed foodwatch investigations showed that self-regulation – endorsed by authorities - allows food companies to mislead consumers without fear of sanction. This has to change.”

This is not the first time that consumer rights group Foodwatch, which operates in France, Germany and the Netherlands, has put the spotlight on misleading information on consumer-facing products.

Foodwatch Germany has targeted dozens of products for misleading marketing in recent years, said Kragl, and about 40% of the companies in question changed the product or marketing or removed the product from the shelves, while campaigns by the Dutch branch saw around 10 products removed from supermarket shelves. 

Related News

© iStock/bieshutterb

And the award goes to... What did Dutch consumers choose as 2016's most misleading product?

'There are too many barriers for entry [into the food sector].' ©iStock/AndrePopov

Little chance of post-Brexit food fraud frenzy

© iStock/Anetlanda

Denmark’s Tænk slams producers for misleading labels

© iStock/Ozgur Coskun

GALLERY: Mintel on super soups and how to shake up a saturated and mature market

Warning on nutrition claims as watchdog says Nestlé ad misleading

Nestle accused of greenwashing water

Court rules in favor of chocolate makers. Photo: iStock - artisteer

Hershey and Nestlé cocoa slave labor lawsuits dismissed

Which? claimed Lurpak seemed to have a recognisable own-label imitator in most major supermarkets

Own-label food and drink brands mislead consumers: Which?

The label suggests all foods are 'more or less healthy', Foodwatch argues

Five-colour nutrition labelling ‘not easy to interpret’, says Foodwatch

Germany launches energy drink education campaign - but a ban on sales to under 16s is what's needed, says consumer group. Photo credit: / KatarzynaBialasiewicz

‘It’s naïve to think teenagers will listen to the government on energy drinks’: Foodwatch

Related Products

See more related products

Submit a comment

Your comment has been saved

Post a comment

Please note that any information that you supply is protected by our Privacy and Cookie Policy. Access to all documents and request for further information are available to all users at no costs, In order to provide you with this free service, William Reed Business Media SAS does share your information with companies that have content on this site. When you access a document or request further information from this site, your information maybe shared with the owners of that document or information.