NAD Finds ‘Stevia in the Raw’ Doesn’t Mislead Consumers

New York, NY – Dec. 5, 2012 – The National Advertising Division has determined that the product name and packaging for Cumberland Packing Corp.’s “Stevia in the Raw” do not convey the message that the product’s sole ingredient is stevia from the stevia plant.

Rather, NAD found, the product’s name trades on the goodwill of the advertiser’s other products and trademarks, including “Sugar in the Raw” and “Agave in the Raw,” and conveys the truthful message that the stevia in the product is “raw,” i.e., unprocessed.

NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s self-regulatory system and is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

Cargill Health & Nutrition, maker of TRUVIA Natural Sweeteners challenged product description claims made in print and Internet advertising and on product packaging for “Stevia in the Raw.”

Specifically, the challenger took issue with the product name, arguing that “Stevia in the Raw” expressly conveys to consumer that the product is made only of unprocessed stevia, when that is not the case. Rather, the challenger argued, the product is, in fact, comprised mainly of a corn-derived carbohydrate (dextrose or maltodextrin) blended with a small amount of stevia extract.

The parties agreed that high-intensity sweeteners like stevia are substantially sweeter than sugar by weight and require a bulking agent in order to deliver the sweetener in a form practical for consumer use. Without bulking agents, the amount of sweetener needed to equal the same sweetness of table sugar would be so small it would be nearly impossible for consumers to measure, pour, or otherwise dispense, the advertiser said.

Neither party submitted consumer-perception evidence and both parties offered
several dictionary definitions of “raw” and “in the raw.”

“Not surprisingly,” NAD noted, “none of these defined ‘raw’ or ‘in the raw’ as meaning ‘comprised of a single component or ingredient.’”

Following its review of the advertising at issue, NAD determined that “Stevia in the Raw” did not convey the message that the product was comprised solely of one ingredient, and declined to require the advertiser to change the product’s name.

In its advertiser’s statement, Cumberland thanked NAD for its “careful and thorough review … .”