All is fair in love and … yogurt?
Not so, proclaimed a judge recently in a ruling citing a prominent Greek yogurt manufacturer for unfair business practices targeting other yogurt makers.
The competition in the world of immensely popular yogurt offerings is flatly intense, as evidenced by a Chobani advertising campaign seeking to link rivals’ products with insects and swimming pool disinfectant in the minds of consumers.
That went too far, said the judge, whose ruling late last month stated that Chobani’s television, print and online blitz was unlawful. Federal judge David Hurd issued an injunction against Chobani requiring the company to halt the ads immediately. The judge ruled that Chobani’s stated assertions were false and misleading.
The court’s findings issued in the wake of litigation that was commenced earlier by General Mills and Dannon, the makers of Yoplait Greek 100 and Light & Fit yogurts, respectively.
For obvious reasons, those companies reacted sharply to Chobani’s attempt to wrest market share through a campaign designed to tarnish their products. The Yoplait yogurt, for example, was closely linked with the chemical potassium sorbate, which viewers were told in one TV ad “is used to kill bugs.”
That is true, Hurd noted, but not in the formulation used in making yogurt. In the realm of food production, the judge stated, the chemical “is safe for human consumption.”
As for Dannon, its yogurt was tied to a form of chlorine. True again, noted Hurd, “but repeatedly determined to be safe for ordinary consumption.”
Unsurprisingly, both General Mills and Dannon hailed the judicial announcement.
And even a leading Chobani official put a positive spin on the ruling, saying that the ad campaign ushered in an important discussion of artificial ingredients used in food production.
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