Until the UK High Court ruling in April, the definition of Greek seemed as perfectly defined as Zeus’ biceps. It meant boasting a name with half a dozen syllables, sporting an enviable moustache, and having the stomach for copious amounts of ouzo.
But at the moment, I’m honestly struggling to tell my Ares from my Eros.
Following the High Court ruling that restrained Chobani from marketing its Greek yogurt products as ‘Greek yogurt’ in England and Wales, the exact definition of Greek has become a bit blurred.
As a result of the case, which was brought by rival Fage, Greek yogurt isn’t ‘Greek yogurt’ unless it is, or contains a yogurt product, produced in Greece. But you ask Chobani boss, Hamdi Ulukaya, and he’ll swear to you that it’s all down to a specific manufacturing technique.
Whatever you believe, the British Greek yogurt market is as a result suffering from a bit of an identity crisis.
This situation, according to Athens-based dairy engineer Panos Arapakis, has left the UK Greek yogurt market wide open to exploitation.
“Authentic” by Greek standards?
Last week, Greece-based dairy processor KRI KRI entered into a trade agreement to supply the British retailer Waitrose with private label “authentic” Greek yogurt.
Under the recent High Court ruling, the company's Greek yogurt offering is “authentic” - it was produced in Greece by Greek people using Greek milk from Greek cows.
But by Hellenic standards, KRI KRI’s Greek yogurt isn’t Greek yogurt, Arapakis has claimed.
“KRI KRI is Greek-style yogurt,” said Arapakis. “In order to be ‘authentic’ Greek yogurt, it must be produced using the draining method.”
Responding to Arapakis’ claims, KRI KRI export director Andreas Mylonas backed the UK High Court judgement against Chobani.
“It is evident that the indication ‘Greek’ marks the origin of a product,” said Mylonas. “Therefore a Greek yogurt is a yogurt that is produced in Greece from 100% Greek milk.”
“The differentiation between Greek and Greek-style is exactly the origin of the product,” Mylonas added.
KRI KRI exploiting High Court decision?
Arapakis concluded that through its authenticity claims, KRI KRI is “trying to exploit the court victory of Fage against Chobani in the UK.”
The UK High Court has put KRI KRI at a marketing advantage in the UK. It can boast what many other Greek/Greek-style/Strained yogurt manufacturers can’t – that its products were manufactured in Greece.
Fage has certainly done well out of the High Court case. A spokesperson for Fage UK told DairyReporter.com last week that five of the last seven weeks had been record sales weeks for the company.
With this in mind, why shouldn’t KRI KRI take advantage of the situation? Even if the brand is a bit of a Trojan horse by Greek standards.