In the USA, the coffee house chain Starbucks has to face complaints from consumers because some of its fruit drinks do not contain the main ingredient that gives it its name. U.S. District Judge John Cronan in Manhattan rejected the company’s request to dismiss the larger part of a class action lawsuit. After all, many consumers would expect their drinks to actually contain the fruits mentioned in their name.
Customers had complained, among other things, that there was no mango in Starbucks Mango Dragonfruit Lemonade and no passion fruit in Pineapple Passionfruit Lemonade. Plaintiffs Joan Kominis of Astoria, New York, and Jason McAllister of Fairfield, California, said the main ingredients were water, grape juice concentrate and sugar. The names were misleading and led to inflated prices. This violates consumer protection laws in their states.
Legend: This mango lemonade from Starbucks is said to contain no mango. REUTERS/Archives/Alex Fraser
Starbucks argued that the product names describe the taste of the drinks and not their ingredients. The flavors are advertised on the drink menus. Nor does a normal customer have to be confused, because employees can resolve confusion if consumers have questions.
It’s about five million dollars in damages
However, Judge Cronan said that unlike the term “vanilla”, which has been the subject of many lawsuits, there was nothing to suggest that “mango” or “passion fruit” were terms that would normally be understood to mean only a flavor, without the ingredient as well actually contain. In addition, there may well be confusion because other Starbucks products actually contain the ingredients mentioned in their names. Ice Matcha Tea Latte contains matcha, and Honey Citrus Mint Tea contains honey and mint.
The lawsuit demands damages of at least five million dollars. Attorney Robert Abiri said he looks forward to representing the plaintiffs’ group.