Whiskas wins initial bout in court cat fight

A High Court judge has ruled in Whiskas’ favour in a scrap over cat food advertising.

Whiska’s parent Mars had been sued by Nestle, which distributes Purina pet food.

Nestle claimed the Whiskas’ dry range cat food packets, which said “Highest Level of Protein”, were misleading.

The packaging was accompanied by a qualifying box that said: “*highest level of protein in New Zealand based on the average of the WHISKAS® dry range, compared with the average of leading dry cat food ranges sold by competitors in supermarkets, excluding OPTIMUM®”

Nestle wanted a declaration that Mars had breached the Fair Trading Act, and to stop Mars from continuing such packaging.

Its lawyer, Laura O’Gorman, said although the claim might be literally true, it is still misleading.

Mars’ lawyer, Simpson Grierson special council Tracey Walker, said the qualifying text is prominent and makes a fair comparison. She also told the court shoppers are able to compare nutritional information on the packet as well.

Justice Pamela Andrews said there was a serious issue as to whether the protein claim is misleading or deceptive, but an injunction was not needed in the meantime. (see the judgment attached)

The judge said the protein claim had been on Whiskas’ packaging since 2010, and there was no evidence presented that showed consumers were being misled.

The parties were directed to case management for next steps. 

vyoung@nbr.co.nz

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