A dispute recently arose over the popular cereal brands Weet-bix (New Zealand cereal brand) and Weetabix (English equivalent cereal brand) after a shipment of 360 boxes of Weetabix was held in New Zealand customs at The Sanitarium Health & Wellbeing Company’s request that were destined for Christchurch based ‘A Little Bit Of Britain’ food store. Lisa Wilson, co-owner of ‘A Little Bit Of Britain’ food shop said she usually sold seven boxes of Weetabix a day. The Sanitarium Health & Wellbeing Company said they detained the products to protect the Weet-bix brand which is protected by international law.
The Sanitarium Health & Wellbeing Company offered to release the shipment of Weetabix from customs for sale if Wilson agreed to sell the packets of cereal with the brand blanked out. Wilson rejected that offer, saying that she was prepared to take the trade mark dispute with The Sanitarium Health & Wellbeing Company to court if necessary.
Many commentators believe customers would not get the two rival cereal brands confused as the two products would not be displayed in the same food aisle in supermarkets as foreign food stuffs have their own aisle and the packaging of both products is very distinct.
The New Zealand whole grain wheat cereal is called Weet-bix and the English equivalent is called Weetabix. Both of these breakfast cereals originate from the same men in Australia in the mid-1920s. The original recipe was sold to The Sanitarium Health & Wellbeing Company (food company with sister companies trading in both Australia and New Zealand), which registered the Weet-Bix trade mark in 1928. Those men then refined the process and produced Weetabix in the UK a few years later.