ECONOMY

Fage challenges Chobani in UK courts over ?Greek yogurt?

The trade war between Greek dairy giant Fage and US-based Chobani Inc, of Turkish-American entrepreneur Hamdi Ulukaya has now been taken to the British courts, as the Greek firm does not want to give up its leading position in the UK market in Greek-style yogurt now that Chobani is penetrating Britain.

Fage wishes to avert a repeat of its experience in the US, where Chobani ousted it from the position of market leader across the Atlantic.

According to a British magazine report, Fage has filed a suit against Chobani asking for the US firm to be prevented from using the term ?Greek yogurt? on its packaging, as according to Fage it is only yogurt produced in Greece that can be labeled ?Greek.? Instead, it argues, all other yogurt products that have the characteristics of Greek yogurt but are produced outside Greece should be classified as ?Greek-style? yogurt.

The Chobani products, which have been available from Britain?s Tesco supermarket chain since November 1, are imported from the US, although Chobani intends to establish a British-based production plant in future.

According to the report in The Grocer magazine, which Fage chose not to comment on when questioned by Kathimerini, the court?s verdict is not expected before February. Fage had been aiming at an injunction that would temporarily prevent the sale of Chobani products bearing the term ?Greek yogurt,? but failed to achieve this.

For its part, Chobani announced that until the issue of the court?s decision, in a goodwill gesture, it would change the packaging of its products to read ?Greek strained yogurt.? The new packaging is expected to appear on British supermarket shelves from December 1.

Exports to the UK of Fage?s most famous yogurt brand, Total, began in 1983 and the Greek market enjoys a market share in this category of over 90 percent. However, in the last few months several other companies have been making inroads into Britain?s Greek-style yogurt market, such as Muller, Danone and Yoplait, while within this month US company Hain Daniels is expected to present its Greek Gods product.