19 July 2024

Court fines GO Healthy for misleading ‘NZ-made’ claims

Ingredients of only 8, out of 130 products, were NZ-made

Wholesaler of health supplements, GO Healthy New Zealand Ltd has been fined $337,500 in the Auckland District Court for misleading consumers by claiming its supplements were “made in New Zealand”, when the key ingredients in the majority of its products were imported.

GO Healthy pleaded guilty to three charges under the Fair Trading Act, following a Commerce Commission investigation.

The charges related to promotional advertising that appeared across a variety of media, including posters and other in-store advertising materials, magazine advertisements, billboards, websites, social media and national television ads. 

GO Healthy sells its products to pharmacies and health stores throughout New Zealand.

Go Healthy fined
Misleading ads has resulted in a hefty fine

The advertising was used from December 2014 until December 2018 and used the phrase “New Zealand Made” to describe the supplement products.

The representation implied the key ingredients in the supplements originated in New Zealand when, in fact, only eight out of more than 130 GO Healthy products during that time were made exclusively from ingredients originating in New Zealand. While the production process occurred here, the ingredients inside the capsules were largely imported.

Some videos that were part of the campaign also included voice over messages and images that reinforced the impression that GO Healthy’s products were made in New Zealand from ingredients that originated from New Zealand.

In sentencing Judge Sharp said, “New Zealand made representations may provide a sense of affinity to consumers. They may see products as desirable as a result of being made in New Zealand, and consumers may also see beneficial aspects that they can attribute to the products.”

“If the representations are untrue, they disadvantage competitors. The representations might undermine the benefits to those who are truly able to the make the representations that their products are made in New Zealand.” 

General Manager Competition and Consumer, Antonia Horrocks says
“Consumers are often influenced by the origin of goods when considering whether to buy something; this is particularly so for ingestible products, such as health supplements. Consumers are entitled to rely on the information provided by retailers about where a product originated. GO Healthy breached that trust by misleading its customers with its claims that its supplements were made in New Zealand. For health supplement consumers, where the ingredients have come from is important information.”  

Since 2018, as a result of previous Commerce Commission action, Go Healthy has amended most of its marketing materials to include the statement ‘New Zealand Made From Imported and Local Ingredients’.

Commerce Commission advice to manufacturers is: “If you can’t back it up, don’t say it“.

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