Chobani's Greek-ness Challenged in a Suit

The Wall Street Journal
Chobani Greek Yogurt at the Chobani SoHo Café on Thursday, April 24, 2014, in New York. (John Minchillo/AP Images for Chobani)

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With $1.5 billion in sales expected this year, Chobani Inc. has shaken up the industry and brought plaintiffs' attorneys out of the woodwork.

A small New York law firm in Manhattan filed a suit Thursday in federal court in Brooklyn against the Greek-style yogurt company, claiming it tricks consumers into thinking its product is actually Greek and uses terms on its label that exaggerate its nutritiousness.

"None of the Products sold in the U.S. are made in Greece or made by Greek nationals even though Defendants market themselves as "America's Top Greek Yogurt," claims the complaint on behalf of two New Yorkers.

Chobani officials say the suit is without merit and that its central claim is the equivalent of complaining that Canadian bacon isn't from Canada.

"Our fans also understand that, like English muffins and French fries, Greek yogurt is a product description about how we authentically make our yogurt and not about where we make our yogurt in Upstate New York and Idaho," the company said Friday.

"We market our products transparently with labeling that is clear, commonly understood and widely used and all of our labels comply with all laws and regulations," it added.

Chobani, founded in 2005 by Turkish immigrant entrepreneur Hamdi Ulukaya, says the Greek term describes yogurt that is strained of excess whey to produce a thicker, creamier texture. The company says every cup of its yogurt is made with three cups of milk.

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