By James Atkinson

Australia's competition watchdog has fined Carlton & United Breweries $20,400 for misleading consumers in its labelling of the Byron Bay Pale Lager beers.

The ACCC yesterday said it had accepted a court enforceable undertaking from CUB in relation to its misrepresentation of Byron Bay Pale Lager as being produced by a small brewer in Byron Bay when this was not the case.

CUB controversially brought the beer to market in packaged format in January last year under a licensing agreement with Byron Bay Brewing Company, without declaring CUB’s involvement.

The ACCC yesterday said that in providing the enforceable undertaking, CUB acknowledged that the labelling may have misled consumers. 

CUB has agreed to cease distribution of product with the misleading labelling and has undertaken that it will not make false or misleading representations concerning the scale of the brewery in which its products are brewed or the place of origin of its products.

CUB has paid two infringement notices to the value of $20,400 in relation to its conduct.

“Many small brewers cater to consumers who prefer to support small, niche businesses. When large companies portray themselves as small businesses, it undermines the unique selling point that such small businesses depend upon, and it misleads consumers,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

“The ACCC will be writing to other participants putting them on notice of this matter in order to ensure that marketing and labelling in the beer market appropriately reflects where and by whom beer is brewed.”

CUB will place corrective notices on its website and in trade publications, and it will also provide a corrective notice for retailers to display at the point-of-sale.

CUB launches revised labelling

A CUB spokeswoman said the beer’s labelling had been revised (pictured right) to better disclose the third party contracting relationship between the Byron Bay Brewing Company and CUB.

“CUB treats its commitment to the law seriously and has worked with the ACCC to address their concerns,” she said.

In a February speech, the ACCC’s Rod Sims said that ‘credence claims’ with the potential to adversely impact on small business would be a key area of focus for the watchdog’s compliance and enforcement activities in 2014.

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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