It’s official: ‘Greek yoghurt’ has to be made in Greece.
So ruled Mr Justice Briggs at the High Court last month (26 March).
He granted Fage a permanent injunction against Chobani, which, when it launched in the UK in September 2012, labelled its US-made yoghurt ‘Greek’.
The impassioned arguments on either side of the case demonstrate one thing - ‘Greek’ (or at least ‘Greek-style’) yoghurt is a market in bloom - brands are still innovating furiously.
“There’s obviously lots of debate about what ‘Greek’ is, but as a style of yoghurt, it’s a big growth area,” says Amelia Harvey, UK co-founder of premium yoghurt brand The Collective.
Fage claimed that only yoghurt made in Greece should be called ‘Greek’, as most consumers buying into the sub-sector understand the term to refer to origin, and yoghurt made elsewhere should be described as ‘Greek-style’.
Chobani, for its part, claimed ‘Greek’ referred to the straining process used to make the yoghurt, and not the country where it was made.
Judge Briggs agreed with Fage that most consumers expected ‘Greek yoghurt’ to be made in Greece.
Fage UK managing director Nigel Amos said the verdict was the right one for consumers: “They want to know the heritage of their food - its content, its nature, where it’s from.”
The verdict confirms the status quo and reinforces a “labelling convention” in the UK that means makers of thick and creamy yoghurts not made in Greece call their products ‘Greek-style’, according to Judge Briggs.
Experts have suggested the case could prompt the Greek government to consider seeking special protected food status for Greek yoghurt, which is not currently covered by EU food marks.
But the story isn’t quite over yet - despite the court’s ruling, Chobani said it remained convinced ‘Greek’ referred to a straining method, not country of origin.
It plans to appeal the decision.
Yoghurts and pot desserts: a healthy obsession?
- Currently reading
Fage takes Chobani to court over definition of Greek yoghurt