High Court Orders SAB To Change Misleading Brutal Fruit Labelling

An order from the High Court of South Africa, Western Cape Division, interdicted and restrained The South African Breweries (SAB), owned by AB InBev, from distributing, marketing or selling two Brutal Fruit Spritzer variants with non-compliant labelling and advertising.

Earlier this year, Distell lodged a formal complaint to South Africa’s Advertising Regulatory Board (ARB) in respect of the Brutal Fruit Apple Spritzer product, given that it was labelled, advertised and promoted in a way that represented itself as an alcoholic fruit beverage,  described as an ‘alcoholic fruit blend’ when it is, in fact, a maize based ‘ale’. 

The ARB ruling on the 27 August 2020 found that these Brutal Fruit Ready-To-Drink (RTD) products, which are popular with younger female consumers, have been promoted by SAB in ‘a way that is misleading consumers’. The High Court Order was made on 10 December 2020, and restricts the use of labels that convey the Brutal Fruit products as ‘alcoholic fruit beverages’. It should rather be correctly labelled as ‘ales’ (in line with the Liquor Products Act, 60 of 1989). The original ruling can be found here

SAB has to stop using the non-compliant labels on or before 18 December 2020, and must with immediate effect remove or withdraw all marketing and advertising in respect of the Brutal Fruit products. This advertising includes all television, radio, billboards, websites, social media, press, print media and in-store advertising and promotional materials in their immediate control. 

Distell commented: “We are pleased at the outcome of this matter. These Brutal Fruit ready-to-drink (RTD) products have been promoted in a way that is misleading consumers. This also disadvantages local competitors which produce and sell authentic “alcoholic fruit beverages”. The company believes in strong and healthy competition to support consumer choice, balanced with transparency about what’s inside their drink to build trust and ultimately brand equity.”