TOPIC, the new consumer-led watchdog formed to look into product labelling claims, has had success with their first investigation and Wakaberry frozen yoghurt has changed their labelling as a result of TOPIC’s enquiries. However, while it has now been established that Wakaberry was not using organic milk at the time of the investigation, further questions remain.
Consumers nominate products to be investigated via social media or TOPIC’s website and the product with the highest votes is then investigated. In November last year, the most nominated product was Wakaberry frozen yoghurt which was claimed to be made with milk from “certified organic” dairy farms. Wakaberry also stated that ingredients come from “free-range farms”.
Within a week of TOPIC writing to Wakaberry Head Office, they replied that they no longer claim that their milk originates from certified organic dairy farms and would be amending their in-store marketing. At the same time Wakaberry removed all claims on their website stating that they use milk from organic farms.
TOPIC views this result as a great success for concerned consumers and highlights how the consumer is empowered when they start asking questions.
The consumer is empowered when they start asking questions
Asking for further proof of their claims that products come from free-range farms, Wakaberry responded in October last year that “nutritional information and content is provided to us by the suppliers who manufacture food and beverage items for Wakaberry” and they assured TOPIC that they would request more information from their suppliers.
Although TOPIC has followed up, there has been no further information or documentation forthcoming about Wakaberry’s free-range claims. There is also uncertainty as to when Wakaberry will remove in-store “organic” claims so that the consumer is no longer mis-led by this inaccurate use of the term.
In the meantime, Wakaberry also continues to benefit from statements on various online sites like Entrepreneur Franchise Zone and Cape Town Magazine that still claim that the company is using milk from organic farms.
After Wakaberry frozen yoghurt, Woolworths organic milk was the next most nominated product by consumers and TOPIC is currently engaged in this investigation. In early March, nominations were again closed and counted and Fry’s sausages topped the list. TOPIC will now be engaging with the family-owned vegetarian food company and investigating the claim that their product is genuinely GMO-free.