Danish Crown has brought closure to a legal greenwashing claim by pledging not to use misleading terms about the pork giant’s environmental credentials.

The case surrounds the marketing slogans “Danish pig is more climate-friendly than you think” and “climate-controlled pig”, which elicited a backlash in 2021 from the Danish Vegetarian Association and the Climate Movement in Denmark campaign groups.

Denmark’s Western High Court ruled in favour of Danish Crown over the climate-friendly term in March but concluded the “climate-controlled pig” phrase violated section five of the Danish Marketing Practices Act.

Danish Crown, however, has now gone further by “responding affirmatively to the claims” of the two campaign groups in a statement issued on Friday (12 April) regarding both the marketing slogans. The Danish Supreme Court has been informed of the admission, the company said.

The statement added: “Danish Crown accepts that when we used the aforementioned statements, we did not comply with the requirements of the marketing law, and also accepts a ban on using these statements in any marketing going forward.”

Randers-headquartered Danish Crown withdrew the marketing campaigns in 2021 following the opposition and the launch of legal proceedings from the Vegetarian Association and the Climate Movement, which claimed the slogans were misleading to consumers and amounted to greenwashing.

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“Since the lawsuit was initiated, we have emphasised that it is crucial for us and the rest of the business world to be able to communicate our climate actions in order to differentiate ourselves and make climate effort a good business – and we still believe this,” Danish Crown said on Friday.

“At the same time, the long and thorough process in the Western High Court has led to both healthy reflections and a useful debate about the boundaries when a company needs to communicate about sustainability.”

The Climate Movement issued its own response today (15 April) in a joint statement with the Vegetarian Association recognising Danish Crown’s admission, noting the marketing campaigns “made their climate-damaging products look greener than they really are”.

Frederik Roland Sandby, the head of the Movement’s secretariat, said: “I hope that many companies will follow along and take lessons so that we can have a fair market where climate-harming products, such as pork, are not marketed as climate-friendly.”

In March, the Western High Court ordered Danish Crown, one of Europe’s largest pork processors, to pay legal costs of DKr300,000 (then $44,000) and to acknowledge it breached marketing laws.

On Friday, the company stated that it “accepts the plaintiffs’ claim to the Supreme Court that the specific promotions in question were a violation of the marketing law”.

Danish Crown added: “We now wish to look forward and instead focus our efforts on transitioning to a less climate-impacting production. In these efforts, we will naturally communicate about our climate actions within the framework of the Western High Court’s decision and this affirmative response to the plaintiffs’ other claims.

“This means that we will also continue to communicate about our climate actions in Danish Crown, but of course with great attention to ensuring that the promotions in our marketing reflect the guidelines that have been clarified in connection with the lawsuit.”

The joint statement from the campaign groups emphasised Danish Crown’s pledge to transition to less-damaging production, saying it is “positive that Danish Crown hereby acknowledges that their production is harmful to the climate”.

Rune-Christoffer Dragsdahl, the secretary general of the Vegetarian Association, said in the statement: “Pork and pig production are unimaginably harmful to the climate, not least because of the massive deforestation that takes place so that we can feed millions of pigs with soy.

“We should instead lower meat production, plant more trees and re-establish forests to buy ourselves valuable time to slow down the violent climate changes we are all in the middle of.”