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Honey slapped for slow-release energy claims; but what about Nutella?

By Shane Starling+

Last updated on 22-Jan-2013 at 01:13 GMT2013-01-22T01:13:50Z

Rowse: ...
Rowse: ..."we are moving on and have submitted a fresh script that emphasises ‘natural energy’"

Rowse Honey cannot claim it gives “slow release energy” following a UK advertising watchdog ruling that has disappointed the Oxfordshire firm and left it wondering how spread rival Nutella can make similar claims.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) told Rowse its TV campaign that ran from April and May last year broke EU health claim rules as it did not explicitly highlight fructose’s lower glycaemic index (GI) compared to sucrose or glucose.

The ad was based on a European Union nutrition and health claim regulation (NHCR) article 13 claim that stated, "fructose in place of sucrose or glucose in foods or beverages could reduce post-prandial glycaemic responses." That approved claim can be found here .

“We are disappointed because we felt it was clear as we had a boy pouring honey on cereal instead of sugar but we are moving on and have submitted a fresh script that emphasises ‘natural energy’,” Rowse marketing controller Kirstie Jamieson told us this morning.

“But we find it difficult to see how Nutella can make very similar claims. It’s about being fair and giving consumers the right information.”

Last June, consumer watchdog Which? castigated the ASA for upholding a Nutella “slow release energy” advert as it was concerned about its sugar and fat levels.

“We think it is completely unacceptable to position a product packed with fat and sugar as a suitable breakfast for children, and only to refer to the healthier ingredients it contains,” Which? executive director Richard Lloyd told our sister publication, at the time.

In the US the firm eased up on claims that Nutella was a "balanced breakfast" after a class action was lodged in early 2012.

Nutella owner Ferrero was not available for comment at the time of publication. Nutella’s advert can be seen on its website here.  It recorded the fastest growth among leading UK table spreads of 10.1% between 2011 and 2012, according to Nielson data.

Honey revision

Rowse’s revised TV ad script has been approved by Clearcast, the independent agency that previews intended broadcast campaigns, and will go to air next month, Jamieson said.

'Please sir I want some more?'...Or do I?

'Please sir I want some more?'...Or do I?

The previous version of the advert, also approved by Clearcast, stated: "Rowse Honey is a natural source of slow release energy for busy boys and girls."  

It had been approved by nutritionist and consultant Dr Carrie Ruxton who backed honey’s (GI: 55 +/- 5) slow release energy potential in a Rowse statement, referencing studies that aligned with the EU health claim position.

But the ASA said it was, “concerned that the scenes in which the product was featured: as an addition to porridge, in baking a cake and to baste a chicken, did not make sufficiently clear that Rowse honey was considered a source of slow release energy when it was used as a replacement for sugar-sweetened foods or beverages that contained sucrose or glucose.”

Jamieson said the company would continue to push honey’s health benefits in future marketing.

“No one has really talked to consumers about honey for a long time and we intend to continue dialling some of its nutritional benefits. This ruling is a blip – we move forward.”

Rowse honey recently passed Marmite to become the number one spread in the UK according to Nielson data for the 52 weeks to December 8, 2012.

 UK spread leaders




% change

Rowse Honey




Unilever Marmite




Premier Foods Hartley's




Ferrero Nutella




Premier Foods Gales




Source: Nielson

The ASA's Matt Wilson got in touch after publication to say it had no other complaints on its books for productds claiming, "slow release energy".

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