Last week, a class action lawsuit against Greek yogurt brand Chobani claimed the brand was misrepresenting the origin of its products, which are made in upstate New York and Idaho. The lawsuit also took issue with the branding of Chobani as a healthy product when it has more sugar than certain Nestlé ice cream bars.
Chobani founder Hamdi Ulukaya says Greek is not a misrepresentation, as most customers realize the term refers to the type of food rather than the origin (similar to English muffins.) The company released a statement saying a similar lawsuit in California over the labeling of its sugar content was dismissed. The judge in the California case found it hard to believe that any consumer would not know evaporated cane juice contains sugar.
Though it’s unlikely the plaintiff will be awarded damages, the attention is indicative of how Greek yogurt has moved from a fad to a food category. The Greek yogurt market has grown 38.3% since 2008, and Genius brand in L2’s Digital IQ Index: Food report Chobani has usurped market share from traditional player Dannon and YoPlait to become a leader in the field. Perhaps, the expansion of Greek yogurt market and entry of new players (the lawsuit named Fage as a defendant as well) will nudge the US Federal Drug Administration to establish clear guidelines on how the product can be marketed.