Multinational confectionery and soft drink giant Cadbury Schweppes has been caught by a consumer watchdog for selling products which claim to be made by a 100% Australian-owned family company.
Cadbury Schweppes, which has a universal market capitalization of more than $A23 billion (US $15.97 billion) and employs 54,000 people around the world, has agreed to stop selling The Natural Confectionery Company (TNCC) range of confectionery products in its old packaging.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said Cadbury Schweppes' Australian arm had acquired TNCC-makers Sunrise Confectioners (Aust) Pty Ltd in April 2003.
At the time, TNCC packaging stated, "The company has been in the same family for four generations and is 100% Australian owned".
The company makes 99% fat-free jelly lollies, such as snakes and jelly babies.
While the ACCC acknowledged that TNCC's new packaging reflected the new ownership, since the sale was completed, almost 18 months ago, certain TNCC confectionery products had been sold and remained available for sale in packaging bearing the former ownership representation, the watchdog said.
"The ACCC views false claims about Australian ownership very seriously," ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel said.
"Companies must be diligent in acquisitions or takeovers to ensure representations made reflect changes in company ownership so as to not reap any undue benefit from inaccurate ownership claims."
Cadbury Schweppes had agreed to ensure that none of the remaining stocks of TNCC products in the old packaging were sold or distributed, the ACCC said.
It also had agreed to issue a consumer notice and apology, to be published in daily newspapers across Australia.
The company had agreed to refund (by way of store vouchers) consumers who purchased TNCC products, from April 28, 2003, in the old packaging from a retail outlet in reliance on the ownership representations, the ACCC said.