Why FMCGs need more legal advice than other industries
Why FMCGs need legal advice more than any other industry...and other things you need to know about FMCG Law
When it comes to running a successful FMCG, there are three things that you need in your back pocket – you need a good ‘ABC’ action plan – an Attorney, a Banker and a CPA/accountant. Legal forms can be accessed and downloaded from the internet or you can Google information on a potential lawsuit, but any Startup, SME, FMCG business is one lawsuit away from being out of business. So speak with a lawyer right away if you have any legal concerns or need clarification.
1. What does FMCG mean? And can we eat it?
Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) are products that sell quickly, usually at low cost. Food, over the counter medicines, drinks, toiletries, stationery and other similar small consumable items all fit into this category. These products sell in huge quantities and have a widespread consumer base but are generally strictly regulated.
2. Minor legal worries that aren’t so minor
Businesses that make or provide food or beverages for sale are obliged to comply with labelling regulations, including regulations relating to food allergies, calorie content, ingredients source, warning statements, nutrition, health and related claims – we can go on! The standards in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code are frequently updated and extremely onerous, particularly when it comes to the labelling of food where safety is a priority.
3. The major legal headaches
Allergies and intolerances are no joke, particularly if a consumer has an adverse reaction to one of your products. Not only is the safety of your consumer paramount, but as Warren Buffet famously quoted: “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it”.
In a competitive and ever-changing market landscape, if you are looking to launch a food or beverage brand in the FMCG space, one of your first priorities should be to ensure your products are legally compliant, particularly when it comes to labelling.
4. How the law can protect your FMCG brand
If you end up in a situation where there is cross contamination or an error on the label of a product, you could find yourself in a product recall situation, and with this, could come the demise of your brand and reputation – particularly if you are not yet established in the market! If this is the case, it is well worth seeking legal advice to ensure that you live up to your obligations and reduce your liability as much as possible.
A Good Legal Team will look over any public relations statements to help you avoid common pitfalls and assist FMCG companies in ‘Rising Above’ the PR crisis.
5. Marketing or Misleading?
The position with medicines and supplements can be even more onerous and blurred in some instances. Therefore, it’s important that you establish whether what you are selling is classed as a supplement or a drug so that you know what your obligations are going forward.
Marketing claims for drugs and supplements are a whole different minefield, particularly when it comes to the Australian Consumer Laws. While companies need to make their product sound attractive and distinguishable from a competitive FMCG market, any marketing messages should be worded carefully, otherwise, you could be left open to a possible lawsuit if you or your PR team make exaggerated claims about your product which might, in fact, be potentially misleading and deceptive.
If you require any assistance, contact one of our expert FMCG lawyers at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 8644 6000.