Or­nua seeks to have Ker­ry­gold but­ter law­suit in US dis­missed

Irish Independent - Business Week - - FRONT PAGE - John Mul­li­gan

OR­NUA – for­merly the Ir­ish Dairy Board – has moved to have a case against it dis­missed in the United States where it’s been ac­cused of falsely ad­ver­tis­ing its Ker­ry­gold but­ter brand.

San Diego-based prop­erty ex­ec­u­tive Dyami My­ers-Tay­lor launched a law­suit against Or­nua dur­ing the sum­mer.

He al­leges that the Ir­ish co-op has been pro­mot­ing its Ker­ry­gold but­ter in the United States as hav­ing been pro­duced us­ing milk from cows that have been solely grass-fed.

He has claimed that Ir­ish cows are not ex­clu­sively fed grass, and that, as such, Ker­ry­gold’s ad­ver­tis­ing was false and mislead­ing.

Mr My­ers-Tay­lor has al­leged that mar­ket­ing slo­gans used by Ker­ry­gold were in­tended to con­vey the “false im­pres­sion that the Ker­ry­gold prod­ucts are de­rived from cows that are 100pc grass-fed”.

He also al­leged that at cer­tain times of the year, “Ker­ry­gold feeds its cows ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied and other grains – not grass”.

Or­nua has told the court that the milk used to make its but­ter gen­er­ally comes from cows in Ire­land that spend an av­er­age of 305 days a year graz­ing on fresh grass, and that be­tween 90pc and 95pc of their diet comes from fresh grass.

“Noth­ing about the way the but­ter prod­ucts are pack­aged or mar­keted would lead a rea­son­able con­sumer to be­lieve that the cows are ex­clu­sively grass-fed,” it told the US court.

The co-op pointed out that Ir­ish law pro­hibits the use of growth hor­mones, in­clud­ing rBST, on dairy cows.

Case:

Prop­erty ex­ec­u­tive Dyami My­ers-Tay­lor launched a law­suit against Or­nua over ad­ver­tis­ing for Ker­ry­gold but­ter

The rBST hor­mone is given in other coun­tries to boost milk pro­duc­tion in dairy cows. It is banned across the EU.

There­fore, there can be no real dis­pute that the cows sup­ply­ing milk for the prod­ucts are “grass fed” and “not treated with rBST or other grown hor­mones,” Or­nua has told the US court.

It added: “Plain­tiff ’s idio­syn­cratic in­ter­pre­ta­tion that ‘Milk From Grass-fed Cows’ and ‘Nat­u­ral’ means milk from cows that only con­sume grass, and never grains, de­fies com­mon sense.”

Or­nua ex­pects global sales from its Ker­ry­gold branded prod­ucts to reach €1bn this year. That com­pares to about €900m in sales last year.

The co-op re­ported record rev­enues of €2.1bn last year.

It has diver­si­fied the Ker­ry­gold brand to in­clude prod­ucts such as Ker­ry­gold cheese, gar­lic bread and cream liqueur, and more re­cently, the in­tro­duc­tion of Ker­ry­gold short­bread bis­cuits.

Mr My­ers-Tay­lor is at­tempt­ing to make his le­gal chal­lenge a class ac­tion suit. Or­nua has in­sisted in court doc­u­ments that he should be pre­cluded from do­ing so.

Next month, Or­nua said it will seek to have the case against it dis­missed.

“Each of Plain­tiff ’s causes of ac­tion re­quires him to al­lege a false or mislead­ing state­ment that is likely to de­ceive a rea­son­able con­sumer,” it told the court.

Or­nua’s lawyers have ar­gued that the case should be dis­missed with prej­u­dice, claim­ing that Mr My­ers-Tay­lor’s “in­her­ent de­fects in his claims” can­not be cured by an amended com­plaint.

Or­nua ex­pects to make its case for dis­missal on De­cem­ber 17 in San Diego.

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