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Belgian Court Orders Alpro to Remove Misleading Soy Labeling

A Belgian court has ruled that Alpro’s use of the term “yoghurt variation” for its soy and plant-based products must be removed from product labeling and website marketing because it is misleading. The court also ruled out the use of “plant-based variation on dairy” but did approve “plant-based alternative to dairy” after the Belgian Confederation of Dairy Industry filed a complaint. Alpro, a segment of U.S. dairy giant Dean Foods, responded to the ruling by saying it has not desire to mislead consumers on the difference between soy and dairy but that they “believe that the dairy industry unjustly underestimates consumers.” The company believes that consumers “do read Alpro’s messages correctly and know very well what they will eat or drink when buying [our] products.”

This situation is part of an ongoing battle over the terminology used for soy and plant-based dairy alternatives. In 2012 a court ruled in favor of the Dutch Dairy Association and ruled that Alpro could only use ‘yoghurt variation’ with the term ‘plant-based’. In 2007, an EU court ruled that dairy alternatives that are not entirely dairy can not be “labeled, advertised or presented using protected terms reserved for milk and milk products.”

The debate is likely to continue. A 2014 Mintel report shows that dairy alternatives, including soy, rice and buffalo milk grew 155% from 2011-2013.

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Lynda Kiernan is Editor with HighQuest Group Media and of the Oilseed & Grain News. If you would like to submit a contribution for consideration, please contact Ms. Kiernan at lkiernan@highquestgroup.com.

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