The Austrian Association for Consumer Protection (VKI) has filed a lawsuit against Brau Union Österreich for misleading advertising with regards to its Gösser beer.
Brau Union had used slogans such as "CO2-neutral brewed" or "100% of the energy required for the brewing process comes from renewable energies" on the packaging of its Gösser beer, as well as in TV commercials, to advertise that the beer was brewed in a 100% CO2-neutral way. VKI investigated and found out that only the brewing of Gösser beer does not use fossil energy, while upstream and downstream production processes, such as the energy-intensive malting process, apply fossil gases.
For this reason, VKI argued, the advertisement was misleading because fossil energy was only eliminated in the brewing process itself, not in the entire production process. Brau Union rejected the accusations, arguing that malting was technically not part of the brewing process. The Linz Regional Court (Landesgericht Linz) has now confirmed VKI’s view. The court found that malting was considered part of the brewing process on various websites, including Gösser's own website. The advertising was, therefore, unclear and misleading for averagely informed consumers. The judgment (Case No. 3 Cg 69/22k – 8) is not yet final and binding, as Brau Union has filed an appeal.
This is another case showing that the fight against greenwashing is picking up speed. It is likely that this topic will become even more important for European courts in the future, with the EU being in the process of adopting a directive on green claims.