Two leading homegrown rival FMCG brands Dabur and Marico are in an open spat with each other over claims regarding their honey brands and have taken the matter to advertising regulator ASCI.
Dabur on Sunday said it is filing a complaint against rival Marico before the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) for claiming its Saffola Honey sample being passed through the NMR test.
The Noida-based company claimed Marico's Saffola honey has failed the NMR (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance) test and is misleading the consumers.
"Dabur is filing a complaint in ASCI against Marico as their Saffola Honey sample from the market has failed the NMR test. Test reports clearly indicate the presence of sugar syrup in Saffola honey. Their claim on NMR test is misleading the consumers," Dabur claimed in a statement.
However, Dabur's claim was refuted by Marico contending that "Saffola Honey is also compliant with each of the quality parameters mandated by FSSAI".
Earlier, Marico had filed a complaint before the ASCI on October 1, over Dabur's claims of NMR of its honey and was upheld by the regulator.
"Marico filed an intra-industry complaint before ASCI, against 'NMR TESTED PURE HONEY' claim by Dabur for its product Dabur Honey. The claim 'NMR tested' was considered false and misleading by implication and omission and UPHELD under Chapter 1.4 of the ASCI Code," a Marico spokesperson stated.
It has also filed another complaint before ASCI on December 3, 2020, wherein it challenged the claim made by Dabur its honey has passed the German NMR test.
"The complaint has been admitted by ASCI and taken on record for further hearing," said Marico.
Without naming the brand, ASCI said it has received four complaints against honey brands over the past few months.
"Three of these complaints were upheld as they contravened the ASCI code. The advertisers were unable to provide adequate substantiation for the claims they were making, and hence these advertisements were considered misleading," said Secretary-General Manisha Kapoor in an emailed reply to PTI.
As per the ASCI process, the advertisers are required to modify their claims or withdraw the advertisements.
While, Dabur in its statement said that the recent clarification by the Food Safety & Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has clearly reinforced that their 22 mandatory tests, including specific test like SMR, are the most stringent tests globally to detect all the potential adulterants and sugar in honey.
"Dabur has cleared all the above FSSAI-mandated tests, including SMR, besides voluntarily conducting NMR test periodically to ensure that our consumers get 100 percent pure honey with no added sugar/syrups or any other adulterants," it said.
Last week, environment watchdog CSE had issued a study report claiming leading honey makers products including of Dabur were adulterated with sugar syrup.
"Honey samples from leading brands such as Dabur, Patanjali, Baidyanath, Zandu, Hitkari and Apis Himalaya, all failed the NMR (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance) test," the study had said.
Recently several new players have entered into the growing domestic honey market after pandemic as people are now focusing on wellness products post-pandemic.
According to Expert Market Research, the India honey market reached a value of about Rs 1,729 crore in 2019.
"The market is further expected to grow at a CAGR of about 10 per cent between 2020 and 2025 to reach a value of nearly Rs 30.6 billion by 2025," it said.