UK watchdog bans Oatly ads over ‘misleading’ green claims

The Swedish food company was told to withdraw its ads and give evidence on environmental claims

Big Zero Report 2022

The UK’s regulator of advertising has banned a campaign by Swedish milk brand Oatly after ruling its claims included in the ads were misleading.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) received 109 complaints from viewers who challenged whether certain claims that were included in these ads could be justified.

Complaints were made for phrases such as “the dairy and meat industries emit more carbon dioxide equivalent than all the world’s planes, trains, cars, boats etc”.

Another ad claimed that “Climate experts say cutting dairy and meat products from our diets is the single biggest lifestyle change we can make to reduce our environmental impact”.

The ASA ruled the ads must not appear again in the forms complained about.

The watchdog said: “We told Oatly UK Ltd to ensure that the basis of any environmental claim was made clear, including what parts of the life cycle had been included and which excluded.

“We also told them to ensure they held adequate evidence to substantiate environmental claims made in their ads as they would be understood by consumers.”

The ads must not appear again in the forms complained about. We told Oatly UK Ltd to ensure that the basis of any environmental claim was made clear, including what parts of the life cycle had been included and which excluded. We also told them to ensure they held adequate evidence to substantiate environmental claims made in their ads as they would be understood by consumers.

Tim Knight, an Oatly spokesperson, told ELN: “It is clear that we could have been more specific in the way we described some of the scientific data.

“For example, we made a claim stating that “Oatly generates 73% less carbon dioxide equivalent vs cows milk”.

“We should have been more specific and said: “Oatly Barista Edition oat drink generates 73% less carbon dioxide equivalent vs whole milk, calculated from grower to grocer”.

“We are a science-based company and take pride in being precise, but we could have been clearer. We talk about these things a lot because we want to make it easy for people to make an informed switch from dairy to oat drink.

“After all, if everyone in the world adopted a vegan diet, it would almost halve food’s annual greenhouse gas emissions.”

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