The Kapiti Milk line consists of three organic products: homogenised milk, non-homogenised milk and single cream.
The logo includes a silhouette of Kapiti Island and the bottles have drawn criticism from consumers that they closely resemble Lewis Road Creamery products.
J Clark complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) that there were no cows on Kapiti, and the packaging was a “direct rip-off” of Lewis Road Creamery.
“Fonterra is piggy-backing on the success of Lewis Road and confusing buyers who actually want the high quality of Lewis Road,” Clark said.
“Fonterra does not need to pick off New Zealand competitors in this grossly unethical way,” Clark said.
ASA chairwoman Raewyn Anderson ruled on February 3 that there were no grounds to proceed because the advertisement had been prepared responsibly and there was no breach of the Code for Advertising Food.
She noted the packaging similarities and concerns that it was misleading as there were no cows on Kapiti Island.
But because the advertisement did not say the milk came from cows that were farmed on Kapiti Island there were no grounds to complain.
Anderson said “Kapiti” was a well-known brand name that had been used for nearly 30 years.
Lewis Road claimed Fonterra was guilty of passing off , where a business wrongly represents its goods or services as a competitor’s.
Legal papers have been served between the two dairy companies for an upcoming court case.
Fonterra managing director Leon Clement said, “While the matter is still with the courts, we can’t really comment directly on the action that’s pending, but we are pleased and encouraged that the ASA found there were no grounds to proceed with the similar complaint that was made to them.”
Lewis Road Creamery has been contacted for comment.
A previous case between Coca-Cola and the New Zealand distributor of Pepsi for using a similar bottle.
Coca-Cola claimed that the similarity damaged its brand and was likely to deceive customers.
But the court found that Coca-Cola was such a well-known brand in New Zealand that there was little chance of customer confusion.
Lewis Road Creamery has filed court proceedings to resolve the branding similarity with Fonterra’s Kapiti range. But the ASA case is not linked to that.