Controversy Over Dessert Labeling: Much Moore’s ‘More Plant Based, Less Dairy’ Sparks Debate-NZ

March 22, 2024

A recent uproar has erupted in New Zealand’s dessert aisle as vegan advocates clash with budget ice cream brand Much Moore over the labeling of its “Marvels” range. The controversy centers around the prominently displayed white leaf in a green bubble, accompanied by the text “more plant based” and “less dairy,” which some claim misleads consumers into thinking the products are entirely plant-based.

Despite assertions from Much Moore that the labeling is meant to inform consumers about the product’s composition, vegan advocates argue that the presence of milk products and beef gelatine contradicts the implication of being plant-based. Claire Insley, representing the New Zealand Vegan Society, expressed discontent, stating that such labeling is “trying to mislead people.”

What is the debate?

Consumer NZ joined the chorus of criticism, suggesting that the packaging could mislead consumers into thinking the product is vegan-friendly due to the use of the word “more” in the labeling. However, Much Moore defended its labeling strategy, stating that the intention was to communicate the higher proportion of plant-based ingredients compared to dairy.

An examination of the ingredients lists reveals similarities between the budget “Groovy Gumdrops” and the premium “Gumdrops” variants, with the former containing added water and citric acid, a plant-derived ingredient. Despite this, the Marvels range is labeled as “frozen dessert” rather than ice cream, potentially indicating a lower dairy content.

Ministry for Primary Industries Stands by Much Moore Despite Controversy

The Ministry for Primary Industries supported Much Moore’s labeling approach, stating that it complies with regulations by clearly listing beef gelatine and milk solids as ingredients and making no claims of being vegan or dairy-free. Vincent Arbuckle, the ministry’s food safety deputy director-general, emphasized that it’s the manufacturer’s responsibility to ensure compliance with relevant legislation.

As the debate rages on, the Vegan Society urges concerned consumers to voice their grievances, while the Commerce Commission warns against businesses providing false or misleading information about their products, highlighting the risk of breaching the Fair Trading Act. The clash between consumer expectations and labeling practices underscores the ongoing challenges in navigating the complexities of food labeling in an increasingly diverse market.

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