Another company has been fined for providing a misleading representation of royal jelly.

A company that imported Chinese powdered royal jelly, and sold it in capsules claiming it was “Made in New Zealand’ has been fined $11,400 in the Auckland District Court for breaches of the Fair Trading Act.

Honey New Zealand (International) Limited admitted two charges of breaching the Fair Trading Act in relation to the marketing and distribution of Honey New Zealand Royal Jelly Capsules through stores in Auckland and Christchurch.

Honey New Zealand arranged for Chinese powdered royal jelly to be mixed with white beeswax and inserted it into capsules. The product was labelled as “Made in New Zealand”, carried an image of the New Zealand fern, and a statement that, “Honey NZ has over a 90 year history working with premium honey bee products gathered from the heart of untouched native forest and wild field areas of New Zealand.”

In fact the only part of the product that was genuinely from New Zealand was the white beeswax the royal jelly was mixed with and the water in the capsule shell. Honey New Zealand admitted that six out of eight of the raw materials in its royal jelly were sourced from China.

Judge Sinclair said “In my view the statements made on the label departed significantly from the truth.” She commented further that, “…the label led consumers to believe they were buying a superior New Zealand made product when in fact they were not.”

“Products claiming to be Made in New Zealand can demand a premium in this market. Genuine fresh New Zealand royal jelly is considered to be of superior quality. By marketing a cheaper imported Chinese product as New Zealand made Honey NZ undercut the genuine New Zealand product, harming others in the market and misleading consumers who bought the product,” said Commerce Commission Enforcement branch Manager Greg Allan.

“Claims of country of origin on products must not mislead consumers. Consumers have a right to make their purchase decisions based on correct information. The country of origin of a product is increasingly a factor consumers consider when making a purchase decision,” said Mr Allan.

Honey New Zealand stopped distributing the royal jelly product following the Commission’s investigation and relabelled its products.

Royal Jelly is a key active ingredient used in dietary supplements. It comes from the honey bee secretion that is used in the nutrition of larvae.10-Hydroxy-2-Decenoic Acid (10HDA) is a substance which exists only in royal jelly. 10HDA is a fatty acid which is involved in growth and immunity. 10HDA is an important factor in assuring quality and potency. New Zealand royal jelly is believed to be of a high quality, with readings of 10HDA higher than found in royal jelly from other countries. In New Zealand royal jelly products made from imported ingredients make up approximately 95 per cent of the market. Genuine New Zealand royal jelly products are sold at a premium price.

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