Mowi USA and Mowi Ducktrap face lawsuit alleging deceptive marketing, advertising

Published on
August 4, 2020

A new lawsuit filed against Mowi USA and Mowi Ducktrap alleges the supplier used deceptive marketing and advertising in the promotion of Ducktrap River of Maine-branded smoked Atlantic salmon products.

Filed by Richman Law Group on behalf of the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) in Washington D.C. Superior Court, the lawsuit complaint argues the salmon farming enterprise violated the D.C. Consumer Protection Procedures Act.

OCA International Director Ronnie Cummins said the “All Natural” claims on packages of Ducktrap River of Maine smoked Atlantic salmon products are misleading.

"Most consumers choosing a smoked Atlantic salmon product with the words 'All Natural' on the package would be surprised to learn that that salmon was raised in a crowded pen where it was treated with artificial chemicals, including pesticides and medically important antibiotics," Cummins said in a 4 August press release from OCA. "In survey after survey, consumers say they believe a product labeled 'all natural' was produced without synthetic chemicals, especially pesticides and antibiotics, and that they are willing to pay more for products labeled 'natural,' Ducktrap River of Maine targets those consumers, even though the company's practices are not consistent with consumer expectations."

OCA said that surveyed consumers ranked "minimal use of hormones and drugs," "no pollution to the environment," and "respect of fish welfare" as three of the top four “most important elements of sustainable aquaculture.”

The grassroots non-profit said it takes issue with Ducktrap River of Maine packages’ "All Natural" and "100% All Natural" assertions, as well as Mowi’s declarations that its products are "sustainably sourced," "environmentally sustainable," and "eco-friendly." OCA said these latter designations are misleading because they “[suggest] to consumers that the products are made from salmon sourced in accordance with higher environmental and animal welfare standards.”

“Conditions at Mowi facilities in Scotland have been rated by animal charity OneKind as some of the industry's worst due to mortality rates, parasite infestations, stress levels, overstocking, genetic deformities, and escapes, among other factors. Overall, the analysis ranked Mowi as the second-worst out of eight farmed fish producers on animal welfare,” OCA said in its press release.

“Mowi also misleadingly claims that Ducktrap products are ‘from Maine’ and ‘from the coast of Maine,’ when in fact the products are made from salmon sourced from industrial salmon farms outside the U.S.,” the consumer advocacy group – which represents a network of more than two million consumers in the U.S. and Mexico – added.  

Ducktrap River of Maine-branded products are produced in “an all-natural smokehouse on the coast of Maine,” according to the company’s website. The operation – which got its start in 1978 in Lincolnville, Maine, U.S.A. – sources “premium-grade seafood, uses traditional smoking techniques, and combines the natural flavor of custom brining recipes with the savory smoke from local apple, cherry, maple, and oak woods,” its website states. Items smoked by Ducktrap River of Maine include Atlantic salmon, wild sockeye, rainbow trout, wild mackerel, shellfish, and more. The company is behind four brands: Ducktrap, Kendall Brook, Winter Harbor, and Spruce Point.

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