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The court has determined that the Danish company's assertion of selling "climate-controlled pork" is deceptive.
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The court has determined that the Danish company’s assertion of selling “climate-controlled pork” is deceptive.

The highest court in Denmark has declared that Europe’s biggest pork producer engaged in deceptive marketing tactics with its promotion of “climate-controlled pork”. This serves as the country’s initial climate-related legal case.

Activists claimed that Danish Crown was promoting false information by using circular, rose-colored stickers on their products that stated pigs were “environmentally-controlled”, in addition to a marketing strategy that asserted their pork was “more eco-friendly than perceived.”

The Danish court concluded that the initial assertion breached Denmark’s advertising law, as the labels originated from Danish Crown and not an impartial entity. However, the second claim was deemed adequately substantiated and therefore permissible.

“Today’s verdict sends a resounding message, not only within Denmark but throughout Europe, that misleading marketing tactics cannot hide behind the shield of freedom of speech,” said Rune-Christoffer Dragsdahl, the general secretary of the Vegetarian Society of Denmark, one of the plaintiffs. “Profiting from climate promises must be backed with legitimate climate action.”

The Danish Agriculture and Food Council reports that Denmark is the leading producer of pork in Europe, slaughtering millions of pigs annually and primarily exporting the meat to other EU countries.

The court determined that the labeling of Danish Crown’s “climate-controlled pork” was not verified by a neutral party, which could impede the average consumer’s ability to make a knowledgeable choice. It stated that this labeling could greatly manipulate the economic actions of the average consumer.

In 2021, Danish Crown ceased the use of the label.

The court dismissed the objections to Danish Crown’s marketing claim that its pork is “more eco-friendly than perceived.”

The report claimed that the statement was in context and referenced a study which revealed that Danish individuals have difficulty determining the environmental impact of pork, as they tend to view pigs on the same level as cows. While pork may emit fewer greenhouse gases per serving than beef, it still releases more than chicken.

Three sources emit significantly more greenhouse gases compared to plant-based foods.

According to Frederik Roland Sandby of the Climate Movement, which is a collection of grassroots climate organizations in Denmark, it is highly improbable that pork production can ever be considered environmentally sustainable, perhaps even more unlikely than the idea of pigs being able to fly.

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The lawsuit, filed by the Vegetarian Society of Denmark and the Climate Movement, marks the initial instance of greenwashing being brought to court in Denmark. Activists are optimistic that it will prompt larger changes in the food sector, as businesses now face more intense monitoring from advertising regulators and legal pressure.

New York sued the American branch of JBS, the largest meat processing company in the world, on Thursday for falsely advertising its climate goals to customers.

The Danish Crown has been instructed by the court to cover certain legal expenses, amounting to approximately €40,000 (£35,000). The company has not provided any comments in response to these requests.

Sandby stated that the recent win is a prime example of the classic underdog story, serving as a timely lesson to powerful meat companies that they are not exempt from being held responsible. They express their desire for this win to spark a chain reaction.

Source: theguardian.com