Alpro has been instructed by the UK’s advertising regulator to withdraw a “good for the planet” marketing slogan for its plant-based drinks and yogurt.

The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) said it had received a complaint challenging whether the slogan for Alpro’s soy- and almond-based beverages, and its soya alternative to yogurt, was misleading and whether it could be substantiated on the basis commercial almond farming can cause environmental damage.

Alpro, owned by French dairy major Danone, said the advertisement has already been pulled despite standing by its claims plant-based products “have a significant lower environmental impact than dairy products”. Alpro confirmed to Just Food the products advertised under the banner were its Alpro Almond drink, its Alpro Oat No Sugars beverage and its Alpro Plain Soya alternative to yogurt.

The complainant had raised concern after seeing the “good for the planet” banner on the side of a bus, accompanied by the slogan: “next stop, your recipe to a healthier planet”.

In its ruling, the regulator noted in a statement: “The ASA considered there was little context provided in the ad with which to interpret the claim ‘good for the planet’. There was no qualification to the claim and, although we acknowledged that the ad also stated, ‘your recipe to a healthier planet’ and ‘deliciously plant based’, we considered it was not clear whether those were intended to clarify the claim, ‘good for the planet’, or to be read as separate claims.

“We, therefore, considered the claim ‘good for the planet’ could be interpreted in more than one way.”

Under the so-called CAP Code – the rule for non-broadcast advertisements – the ASA said the “basis of environmental claims must be clear and that unqualified claims could mislead if they omit significant information”.

In the case of Alpro, there could be ambiguity from two sides. Whether there was an environmental benefit from producing the three plant-based products, or whether they were “less detrimental to the environment compared to dairy equivalents across their lifecycles”, ASA explained.

Alpro countered: “In response to the ASA inquiry, we submitted evidence – including full lifecycle assessments – confirming the benefits of our products for our planet, including in comparison with dairy products. Our evidence has not been disputed.

“We are disappointed about this outcome given that plant-based drinks such as the range of Alpro products shown in the ad have a significantly lower environmental impact than dairy products. [It] is a generally accepted scientific fact (as has been confirmed by the ASA Council before).”