You’re not Greek! Chobani handed UK ban on use of the term ‘Greek yogurt’

By Mark ASTLEY contact

- Last updated on GMT

You’re not Greek! Chobani handed UK ban on use of term ‘Greek yogurt’

Related tags: Yoghurt

US Greek yogurt giant Chobani has been issued with a permanent injunction by the UK High Court that prevents its use of the term ‘Greek yogurt’ to market its yogurt range in England and Wales.

The order​, which was granted by Justice Briggs, restrains New York-based Chobani from marketing its yogurt range as ‘Greek yogurt’ in the UK unless it is, or contains a yogurt product, produced in Greece.

The case centred on Fage’s claim that only yogurt made in Greece should be labelled as ‘Greek yogurt’. Chobani maintained, however, that ‘Greek yogurt’ is defined by a specific manufacturing process, “not by reference to its place of origin.”

Following the seven-day trial, Justice Briggs concluded that a substantial proportion of those who buy Greek yogurt in the UK believed that it is made in Greece.

“…it seems to me clear that, if a sufficient goodwill is shown to be attached to the phrase Greek yogurt among customers who believe that it is made in Greece, and that this matters to them, then the use of Greek yoghurt to describe yoghurt not made in Greece plainly involves a material misrepresentation,” ​said Justice Briggs.

fage
Fage Greek yogurt is manufactured in.....Greece.

“For those reasons, FAGE’s claim to restrain Chobani from passing-off its American made yoghurt in England and Wales under the description Greek yoghurt succeeds, and a permanent injunction must be granted to that effect,”​ he concluded.

Chobani will “persevere” in the UK

Fage UK managing director, Nigel Amos, has heralded the decision as a victory for consumers.

“We are delighted with the outcome, not least for consumers. They rightly want to know the heritage of their food – its content, its nature and where it comes from,”​ said Amos.

“This is entirely in keeping with Fage’s philosophy. We have been producing yoghurt in Athens for 87 years and bring Greek yoghurt into the UK for 30 years. We are hugely proud of our heritage and the authenticity of our products.”

Despite the High Court’s decision, Chobani has vowed to “persevere” ​in the UK market.

“We remain unwavering in our belief that the term ‘Greek yoghurt’ describes yoghurt that has been crafted using a straining process. It is this straining process, not a country of origin, that removes the excess liquid from the yoghurt making it deliciously thick and creamy,” ​said a statement from Chobani.

“We will persevere to bring British consumers the choice they deserve in the yoghurt aisle and remain deeply committed to giving our loyal UK fans even more great Chobani products and flavours.”

Danone “considering the implications of the decision”

danio
Earlier this year, Danone was forced to remove any reference to Greek yogurt from Danio packaging in the UK.

It is unclear at the moment what impact the High Court decision will have on other Greek yogurt manufacturers in the UK.

DairyReporter.com contacted Danone today in relation to the decision.

Earlier this year, Danone was handed an interim injunction by the High Court preventing its use of the term ‘Greek yogurt’ to market its low-fat, strained yogurt brand Danio.

Danone told DairyReporter.com that it was “considering the implications of the decision.”

“Danone is aware of the decision handed down on Tuesday 26 March by the judge in the case of Fage v. Chobani. Danone is now considering the implications of this decision on its existing litigation relating to its Danio product,” ​Danone said in a statement.

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EU and USA labelling

Posted by Adda,

Τhis ruling applies to the UK branch & operations of the US firm Chobani. Keep in mind that with the EU it's common to have a protection on the name of the product based on the geographical area where it's being produced (any firm that operates there can use the name) - see Geographical Indication on Wikipedia. For example, you can't sell sparkling wine named Champagne unless it's produced in France, in the same region as the name.

This has nothing to do with the USA, where labelling requirements are absurdly lax.

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Oh no!

Posted by DLitch,

Would apply to Swiss Cheese? Dutch Chocolate, Polish Sausage... and on and on and on... Fage pulled a fast one and got away with it... Pitiful since they manufacture Greek Yogurt in a state of the art plant in Johnstown, New York. I'll never buy Fage again after they've shown their true colors. If they'll cheat or be disingenuous in claims in court to stifle competitors, their culture as people and a company is corrupt as well. Good bye Fage...

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Does this mean that Fage has to pull out of the US?

Posted by M Hill,

Seems that if Fage's position that to be considered Greek product must originate from Greece the logically they will be closing their plant in New York. I think the real reason is that Chobani has swept the market out from under them and they are doing anything they can to remain relevant.

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