Carlton and United Breweries have been fined $20,000 for misleading the public over the origin of its Byron Bay Pale Lager.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) took action against the beer maker, which brews the product under licence from the Byron Bay Brewing Company.
The beer is made to the recipe dictated by Byron Bay Brewing Company but not at its iconic Byron Bay Brewery.
Only beer consumed at the Byron Bay Brewery itself is made on the premises.
Rather the bottled beer is brewed and packaged at CUB’s massive Sydney brewery.
The problem is that the packaging of the bottled beer is designed to mislead people into thinking the beer they are buying was bottled in Byron, according to the ACCC.
The backs of the bottles include a map of Byron Bay, with the Byron Bay Brewery’s location clearly marked.
The text on the label reads, ‘The Byron Bay Brewing Co is located on Skinner’s Shoot Road in Byron Bay. We’re housed in a historic location, a birthplace of much of the fame and spirit of Byron Bay which has attracted local and international musicians, artists and alternative thinkers since the ‘70s. Next time you’re in town, drop in and have a beer.
‘Brewed in NSW by the Byron Bay Brewing Company and its Licensees.’
The new label will have to include the fact that the brewer is in fact CUB and the fact that it is bottled in Warnervale, not Byron Bay.
ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said that Byron was not the only famous location subject to this kind of misleading labeling.
‘A company selling meat called itself King Island Meat,’ Mr Sims told ABC local radio.
‘It didn’t come from King Island, it just chose that name and we took action, successful action in court, against them.
‘So we also take these cases where people are simply saying they’re coming from a particular geography when they’re not.’
He also made the point that the labeling misled consumers who wanted to support small, niche businesses.
‘When large companies portray themselves as small businesses, it undermines the unique selling point that such small businesses depend upon, and it misleads consumers,’ he said.
He added that people who were seeking a craft beer alternative to mass marketed beers were entitled to know that was what they were paying for.
‘We’re hoping that this will get a number of companies to look at their practices, particularly in food and beverages, to make sure that they’re not large companies passing themselves off as small ones.’