The battle over health between olive oil brands Leonardo & Borges refuses to die down

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The Indian Olive Association (IOA) complained to the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) on Thursday that Saffola, Marico’s flagship edible oil brand, hadn’t stopped disparaging olive oil.

The battle over health claims between olive oil brands such as Leonardo and Borges and Marico’s Saffola refuses to die down.

The Indian Olive Association (IOA) complained to the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) on Thursday that Saffola, Marico’s flagship edible oil brand, hadn’t stopped disparaging olive oil.

“This is in continuation to the complaint made by the Indian Olive Association regarding misleading claims published by MaricoBSE -1.41 % in newspaper ads, online media and product labels,” said the letter addressed to ASCI secretary general Alan Collaco, which ET has reviewed.

IOA had written to ASCI in October against Saffola’s ads and the complaint had been upheld.

“However, Saffola is continuing to advertise using the misleading claims,” IOA said.

Ads for Saffola Total say it offers better protection than olive oil on parameters such as absorption, multi-seed content and that it is better for Indian cooking.

That’s ruffled feathers at IOA.

“Various healthy oils make claims and highlight benefits of their brands, but don’t attack each other directly in ads. It’s not professional ethics,” IOA president VN Dalmia said. “It should be left to consumers to judge which oil is better for them.”

Saffola Total is fortified with ingredients such as antioxidants that have various health benefits, according to Marico.

“Our ad is following the ASCI guidelines,” a company spokesman said. “Our product claims are backed with strong scientific research and proof of claim. We have always had responsible communication and will continue to do so.”

Olive oil is an emerging category worth Rs 500 crore and companies such as Dalmia Continental, which sells Leonardo, and Spain’s Borges have been positioning their brands on the health platform, besides saying that olive oil is suitable for Indian cooking.

ASCI, on its part, declined to comment on the latest skirmish between the two sides. “In case there is noncompliance, we will take it forward with the concerned ministry,” Collaco said.

Dalmia said IOA planned to bring the issue to the attention of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), the regulatory body under the ministry of health that oversees food quality, hygiene, advertising claims and claims on product labels.

India has seen several examples of competing brands disparaging each other through advertising.

This summer, consumer goods giants Hindustan UnileverBSE -0.98 % and Reckitt Benckiser were involved in a bitter ad war. Reckitt Benckiser’s commercial for its Dettol Kitchen dishwashing and kitchen cleaning gel took on HUL’s Vim dish washing detergent. Two years ago, HUL’s ads for Rin detergent had attacked Procter & Gamble’s Tide. The complaints ended up in court.

Source economictimes.indiatimes

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