21/05/2013

When is Greek yoghurt really Greek yoghurt?

The recent decision of Fage UK Ltd v Chobani UK Ltd highlights the importance of correct product labelling. Fage, which dominates the Greek Yoghurt UK market with its product ‘Total Greek Yoghurt’, brought an action in the High Court against Chobani claiming it was incorrectly labelling its yoghurt as ‘Greek Yoghurt’ when it was in fact made in the USA.

The case turned on whether naming the product ‘Greek Yoghurt’ was a reference to its origin, whether it was an indication of how the yoghurt was made and the thick and creamy nature of it, or a combination of all of these factors. Chobani proceeded to label its product as ‘Greek’ despite having been urged by marketing specialists not to do so.

The Judge decided that the fact that both yoghurts were made using a similar straining method was irrelevant. Fage was successful in proving that ‘Greek Yoghurt’ had a sufficient reputation attached to it (as has been shown in the cases of champagne, Swiss chocolate and sherry) and that Chobani had misrepresented its product in naming it ‘Greek Yoghurt’; and Chobani was banned from selling its product in the UK.

For further information on laws governing product labelling, please contact Peter Barton from Gordons specialist Commercial Contracts department.