The Grocer magazine reported two yoghurt labelling tales last week.
The first concerns two companies fighting over the meaning of "Greek yoghurt" with Fage claiming purchasers will be misled into believing rival manufacturer Chobani’s product labelled as such is actually made in Greece. Chobani is preparing to argue in the High Court that the phrase is in common use and understood to mean a style of yoghurt and not its place of manufacture but has agreed to change its labelling to “Greek strained” in the interim.
A separate story reveals that yoghurt manufacturers are protesting against a European Commission Regulation limiting health claims on food products. The 222 descriptions allowed under the Regulation, due to come into force on 14th December, exclude the term ”probiotic”. The Yoghurt and Live Fermented Milks Association is lobbying to have ‘probiotic’ recognised as a so-called general descriptor under Article 1(4) of the EU Nutrition and Health Claims Regulation instead.
Unfortunately for the manufacturers adding “probiotic” to the general descriptors list would not be effected soon enough counteract the requirement to remove the term in December. It seems that will be a lot of repackaging in the sector as manufacturers come up with new descriptions to make their product stand out from this increasingly crowded market. Indeed, there are already reports that they are finding new ways to target consumers concerned with health and wellbeing.
TomiLawyer and IP disputes expert, Nick Kounoupias commented:
"One of the key features of a brand name or a trade mark is to act as a badge of origin and to differentiate the products of one supplier from those of another. In this case we have the unusual situation of a US based entity, presumably using US ingredients, trying to pass off to UK consumers its products as Greek! Why would anyone wanting to buy authentic Greek yoghurt prefer to purchase this product over one that uses exclusively Greek ingredients and milk from animals that have grazed in Greece and not in the US? This is all about not confusing or misleading the consumer and describing Chobani yoghurt as "Greek yoghurt" would certainly do that." Sally Creissen Library and Information Services Manager