Chobani to change packaging while 'Greek yoghurt' battle is pending

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NOTE: This article replaces a previous version, entitled ‘Fage fails to secure injunction to knock Chobani yoghurts off Tesco shelves’, and clarifies that the packaging changes were offered in the context of the judge being minded to grant an injunction.

Chobani is changing the packaging of its yoghurts in the UK, after rival Greek yoghurt maker Fage - the owner of the Total Greek Yoghurt brand - attempted to bring an injunction against it last week.

The US yoghurt company, which has been selling its US-made yoghurts as “Greek yoghurt” in Tesco since September, has agreed to temporarily re-label its packs to “Greek strained yoghurt” while it is defending itself in court. The labelling is being changed now and all packs labelled “Greek yoghurt” will be gone from shelves as of 1 December.

The move comes after a court hearing last Thursday (1 November), at which the presiding judge - Mr Justice Briggs - indicated he was minded to agree to Fage’s request for an interim injunction against Chobani but would be prepared to accept undertakings from Chobani instead.

“What we have offered to do is to no longer use the words ‘Greek’ and ‘yoghurt’ side by side while the case is pending,” a spokeswoman for Chobani said. She stressed Chobani would not change its labelling to the commonly used “Greek style yoghurt” but would instead switch to “Greek strained yoghurt”.

It was initially suggested Chobani would amend its labels to “Greek yoghurt made in the USA” but this was not deemed an acceptable solution by the judge in the end. Chobani also offered not to roll out its yoghurts beyond Tesco while the case was pending, but Mr Justice Briggs said this was not necessary.

Last week’s injunction hearing formed part of a wider case that Fage has brought against Chobani, accusing it of misleading consumers by describing its yoghurts as “Greek” even though - unlike Fage’s yoghurts - they are not produced in Greece. Chobani, for its part, is arguing “Greek yoghurt” refers to a method of making yoghurt and is not an indication of where the yoghurt was made.

The case is due to go to trial in February 2013.

Fage did not comment.

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