The European Dairy Association (EDA) has welcomed a Dutch court decision stopping soy-based food and beverage manufacturer Alpro using the term ‘yogurt’ in isolation to market and advertise products.
Alpro was summoned to court in the town of Breda by the Dutch Dairy Association (NZO) over its use of the term to market and advertise its ‘Mild & Creamy’ soy-based range of products – the use of which the NZO called misleading.
Under the granted injuction, Alpro can no longer use the term ‘yoghurt’, ‘yoghurt variations’ and ‘yoghurt cultures’ to market and advertise the product in the Netherlands.
The judge, however, permitted the firm to use the term ‘yoghurt variation’ in combination with the word ‘plant based’.
The EDA’s Dr Joop Kleibeuker told DairyReporter.com that dairy terms, such as yoghurt and milk, should be reserved for dairy products.
Meanwhile, Alpro expressed its satisfaction in the ruling, which will allow them to “inform the consumer transparently on their plant based variation on yoghurt.”
“We are happy in a sense that the court case agreed that the use of the term yogurt is misleading when used to market soy-based products,” said Kleibeuker. “This is a label that should be reserved for milk-based products only.”
“The case clearly shows that we need to market products with the right names. With dairy we shouldn’t present our products as wine and it is the same with soy-based products, they shouldn’t be marketed as dairy products.”
Kleibeuker added that he hopes the decision will pave the way for a more careful use of dairy-specific terms.
“It is too easy to misuse terms such as milk, yogurt and ice cream for products have that nothing to do with dairy. But I think this court case confirms that the approach taken by the European Commission” Kleibeuker added.
Plant-based yoghurt variation
Reacting to the ruling Alpro said in a statement: “Alpro is satisfied with this significant ruling that allows them to inform the consumer transparently on their plant based variation on yoghurt,”
“The NZO is of the opinion that Alpro associates itself too closely with dairy products, in particular with yogurt, and that it should immediately cease any association with or reference to yogurt in its communications.”
“The judge would not go that far and gave helpful suggestions for a lawful use of the word ‘yogurt.”
Alpro, which is a business segment of US-based dairy giant Dean Foods, was given permission to use the term ‘yogurt variations’ in combination with the word ‘plant based’, as well as the terms ‘alternative to yoghurt’ or ‘yoghurt alternative’.
Earlier this year, three US Senators voiced their concerns regarding the “misuse” of dairy terms by the food industry and urged the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to increase its enforcement of regulations to prevent the “imitation” of standardised dairy products.
This view was back by the US National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF).