Representing a group of three consumers, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has filed a lawsuit against PepsiCo, Inc. alleging the company’s Naked line misleads consumers by naming and labeling its juices with foods “perceived by consumers to be highly nutritious, like kale,” but manufacturing the products without “the ingredient profile represented.” Lipkind v. PepsiCo, Inc., No. 16-5506 (E.D.N.Y., filed October 4, 2016).
“Consumers are paying higher prices for the healthful and expensive ingredients advertised on Naked labels, such as berries, cherries, kale and other greens, and mango,” said CSPI Litigation Director Maia Kats in an October 4, 2016, press release. “But consumers are predominantly getting apple juice, or in the case of Kale Blazer, orange and apple juice. They’re not getting what they paid for.”
The complaint asserts Naked products “predominantly consist of cheaper and less nutritious ingredients like apple juice” and targets the label’s “no sugar added” claim, arguing that consumers mistakenly perceive the phrase “to mean that the drinks are low in sugar—consisting primarily of low-sugar vegetables and super ingredients heavily emphasized in juiced form.” The plaintiffs identify Naked’s Kale Blazer beverage as allegedly representative of the overall marketing strategy for Naked: although the product is “predominantly orange juice,” the label features “pictures of kale and other ‘dark leafy’ greens” while “[o]range juice and apple juice—of which the product largely consists—are not named or pictured anywhere on the front label.” PepsiCo also uses the Twitter handle “TweetsByKale” to promote the beverage and “authors promotional articles on sites like BuzzFeed, wherein PepsiCo extolls the various benefits of kale and exaggerates its presence in the drink.”
For alleged violations of New York and California consumer-protection statutes, the plaintiffs seek class certification, an injunction, statutory and punitive damages and attorney’s fees.