Grape grower fined for being allegedly misleading on grape origin

Tuesday, 22 June, 2021

Grape grower fined for being allegedly misleading on grape origin

A Victorian table grape trader has paid penalties after the ACCC issued three infringement notices alleging the company violated the Horticulture Code of Conduct.

Grape Co and Grape Co Farms (together as Grape Co) have paid $34,920 after the regulator claimed the company made false or misleading representations about grape origins.

Grape Co Australia published on its website a claim that ‘every single one of our grapes is personally hand-selected from the finest fruit on our family’s estate in Sunraysia Australia’, which the ACCC considered represented that all grapes are grown on the Grape Co Australia family estate.

While Grape Co does produce grapes in the Sunraysia region in Victoria, it also uses grapes grown by third parties on other properties.

“Food producers must ensure they do not mislead consumers with marketing statements about the place of origin of goods or produce. This not only impacts consumers, but can also prevent other businesses who are careful about being accurate in their marketing from competing on a level playing field,” ACCC Deputy Chair Mick Keogh said.

“Consumers looking to support small businesses may make purchasing decisions based on representations that the produce is sourced from a family farm, and it is important they are not misled so they get what they pay for.”

Grape Co Australia has since amended its website to reflect the true origins of grapes marketed to consumers.

Separately, Grape Co Farms paid $21,600 in penalties after the ACCC issued it with two infringement notices for alleged contraventions of the Horticulture Code.

The ACCC alleges Grape Co Farms traded without written horticulture produce agreements when acting as an agent for grape growers, and failed to prepare, publish and make publicly available a document that set out its terms of trade.

“It is important that traders have written agreements with growers so that both parties clearly understand their rights and obligations and what can and can’t be done under the agreement,” Keogh said.

“Terms of trade allow growers to understand the services and aspects of trading provided by different traders, so that growers can make an informed decision as to who they wish to supply produce to.”

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