Ferrero, maker of the internationally beloved hazelnut spread Nutella, has won a court case against a Dutch competitor who claimed its palm-oil free spread was healthier and better for the environment than Nutella. This is a major victory for Ferrero and for the Malaysian Palm Oil Council who for decades have championed the wholesomeness and eco-friendliness of Malaysian palm oil.
The ruling refers to the marketing campaign for Delhaize’s chocolate-hazelnut spread which claimed it was healthier and more environmentally friendly because it contained no palm oil. The ruling states that Delhaize’s claims were, “unverifiable and therefore not objective”. The retailer must immediately stop or risk a 25,000 Euro fine per infraction. The court also maintained its 2015 decision that Delhaize cannot specify the product contains chocolate, but it can continue to use the term “choco” in its marketing materials.
In a statement, Ferrero said it supports giving consumers access to objective and correct information to help them make informed choices. “For these reasons, we fully welcome the decision of the Court of Appeals in Brussels regarding the case between Ferrero and the Dutch supermarket chain Delhaize, for the messages used to promote its sweet spread without palm oil.”
Ferrero and the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) have worked together to fight exaggerated and false claims against their products. An interview with MPOC CEO Dr. Kalyana Sundram discussed the unsubstantiated Nutella-cancer connection which some media outlets called “irresponsible.” Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said such allegations have hindered the entry of Malaysian certified sustainable palm oil into the French market. A recent Australian campaign was also littered with inaccuracies.
This most recent ruling does not relate to Delhaize’s palm oil-free claim. The spread is the supermarket’s only product to have this claim on its label. Experts have argued this “no palm” labeling is misleading to consumers. Malaysian palm oil is only produced sustainably and it is credited for lifting millions of Malaysians out of poverty. It’s also non-GMO and is incredibly land efficient. Health experts have also heralded Malaysian palm oil as an ideal natural fat for replacing unhealthy trans fats. In addition to being rich in vitamin E tocotrienols, palm oil’s fatty acid profile helps guard against dangerous inflammation.