ASA Upholds Challenge to Pret A Manger’s “Natural” Claims
The U.K. Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld an advocacy group’s challenge to the use of the term “natural” by Pret A Manger but rejected a challenge to the company’s advertising claim that its breads are fresh-baked at each location. Ads on Pret A Manger’s website and Facebook page claimed that the chain makes “handmade natural food,” “avoiding the obscure chemicals, additives and preservatives common to so much of the ‘prepared’ and ‘fast food’ on the market.” Pret A Manger argued that the ads did not imply that it uses only natural ingredients or that its food is additive- and preservative-free; rather, the terminology was used to express the company’s mission, which is partly to “avoid (as opposed to entirely eliminate) ‘obscure’ (as opposed to all)” chemicals. ASA upheld the challenge, determining that consumers were likely to interpret the claims to mean that the chain’s food was “natural” and free from added chemicals.
ASA rejected the advocacy group’s challenge to Pret A Manger’s claim that its breads and pastries are baked in-store daily, deciding that most consumers were familiar with stores’ practice of baking dough prepared offsite. Consumers were “unlikely to interpret ‘baked in store’ to mean only products that were made from scratch using basic raw materials such as flour and butter,” ASA held, ruling the ad was not misleading.