12 December 2023: The CMA will now engage with Unilever UK Limited and gather evidence to consider whether the CMA thinks the business has broken consumer protection law. The CMA is at the initial stage of its investigation. Accordingly, it should not be assumed that any business under investigation has broken consumer protection law.
26 January 2023: The CMA has commenced a review of environmental claims in the fast moving consumer goods sector.
The review will examine a wide range of products which are essential items used by people on a daily basis and repurchased regularly, such as food and drink, cleaning products, toiletries, and personal care items. In 2021, the average household spent almost £70 a week on food and drink alone, and the FMCG sector as a whole is worth over £134 billion annually.
The CMA will analyse environmental claims made about such products – both online and in store – to consider whether companies are complying with UK consumer protection law. Problematic claims include the use of vague and broad eco-statements, for example packaging or marketing a product as ‘sustainable’ or ‘better’ for the environment with no evidence; misleading claims about the use of recycled or natural materials in a product and how recyclable it is; and entire ranges being incorrectly branded as ‘sustainable’.
The CMA will also continue its wider review of potentially misleading green claims in other sectors to consider whether to open further investigations.
At this early stage, the CMA has not reached a view as to whether there have been any breaches of consumer protection law in the FMCG sector. If the CMA uncovers evidence suggesting green claims could be unfounded, it will consider taking enforcement action using its formal powers.