Free Range Labels Shake Consumer Confidence
Humane Choice has expressed its concerns to the ACCC about the potential to mislead consumers with the labelling on Primo products as ‘RSPCA Free Range’.
The labelling of the pork product, available in Woolworths supermarkets, could lead consumers to believe that the Primo pork is actually an ‘RSPCA Free Range’ product, or at the very least, that the brand is endorsed as free range by the RSPCA.
The RSPCA does not accredit free range pork farms, so labelling any product as ‘RSPCA Free Range’ is deceptive.
The RSPCA Paw of Approval and logo can be applied to indoor, outdoor or combination systems and the consumer has no way of knowing which is which.
The RSPCA has a commercial arrangement with brands that carry their trademark but the RSPCA refuses to endorse small scale producers farming pigs under genuine free range conditions because they have deemed them ‘not commercially large enough.’
“We would like to see the RSPCA take control of the use of their trademark. The RSPCA is a respected organisation and it would be awful to see it used to erroneously influence consumer buying decisions,” says Humane Choice Chief Operating Officer, Lee McCosker. “The RSPCA charges producers 2% of sales to be licensed to use their logos. There is a huge commercial advantage for producers who use the Paw of Approval logo and RSPCA needs to take ownership of that.”
The RSPCA standards allow for massive stocking densities in their accredited pork program with an average Babe size pig (around 35kg) only needing 0.51 sq metres of space outdoors. That equates to nearly 20,000 pigs per hectare and would not meet most consumers’ perceptions of what free range means.
Humane Choice standards encompass animal, environmental and human health and promote a system of farming that is sustainable in the long term. Humane Choice promotes realistic stocking densities, land and pasture management and does not allow for pigs simply being put outdoors to be labelled free range.
“Animal welfare is not for sale. The consumer has an expectation of what free range means and will not tolerate being conned,” says McCosker.