According to the Advertising Standards Agency, the chain made misleading and unsubstantiated claims about their plant- based range being more environmentally friendly than their meat counterparts.
Ads for Tesco’s Plant Chef range have been banned by Britain’s advertising regulator over misleading and unsubstantiated benefits.
Tesco released six adverts that featured on television, radio, print, Twitter, and Tesco’s website during October and November last year.
The ads implied that Tesco’s Plant Chef burgers and plant protein-based foods were more environmentally friendly than their meat counterparts.
The TV ad featured a woman about to eat a burger while watching a program. She hears a voice declaring: “The planet is continuing to warm,” after which a voice-over said: “Now that’s not what Zoe likes to hear, but she’s gonna roll up her sleeves and do her bit … and there it is, a delicious Tesco Plant Chef burger.
“We’ve lowered the price of dozens of our Plant Chef products because a little swap can make a difference to the planet.”
On the website, Tesco stated: “We’ve lowered the price of dozens of Plant Chef products Because a little swap is good for your pocket and even better for the planet.
“As a nation, if we swapped beef for a plant-based alternative just 1 out of 5 times, the amount of CO2 emissions we could save would be the equivalent to driving 27 billion fewer miles in a car!”
The agency received 171 complaints from consumers about words used by Tesco in the adverts. Complainants challenged that the claims around swapping products were misleading and unsubstantiated
Upon investigation, the ad watchdog claimed that the ads implied that switching to products in the Plant Chef range would have a positive impact on the environment. However, “we understand that Tesco does not have any evidence regarding the full lifecycle of any of the Plant Chef range products or the burgers shown in commercials,” the ASA said.
It concluded that Tesco’s claims about the positive benefits of its plant-based range on the planet were not substantiated and were likely to be misleading.
It ruled that the “ads must not appear again in their current form.”
The ASA statement read: “We told Tesco to ensure that in future they did not make environmental claims about their products unless they held sufficient evidence to substantiate the claims.”
In response, Tesco argued that ‘the claims were not, nor were they meant to be, absolute environmental claims, as they did not claim that the products were wholly sustainable or good for the planet’.
The supermarket chain added they had worked with a UK University and a charity to advise them in relation to the environmental impacts of plant-based versus comparable meat-based products.
Moreover, they supported their claims with third party and scientifically led publications, which clearly indicate that plant-based diets could have environmental benefits for the planet.
Furthermore, Tesco said there is ample scientific evidence that shows a “swap” to plant-based products could make a difference to, or be better for the planet, when compared to the production and consumption of equivalent meat-based products.
“We’re committed to making it easy and affordable for customers to incorporate plant-based meat alternatives into their diets and recipes. After all, little changes can help make a difference,” a Tesco spokesperson said.
“We offer hundreds of plant-based options and while we are disappointed by this outcome, our customers can continue to count on us to help them enjoy a better balanced diet with plenty more delicious and affordable plant-based products in the pipeline.”
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