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.
“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”
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.