sip on this
Posted by Dale Buss on June 1, 2012 11:55 AM
As American consumers have shifted more and more to purchasing better-for-you foods, many mainstream brands have been happy to exploit the use of the term "natural" as a generally effective positioning tactic. The reason they find it so useful is that regulators don't force them to define "natural," unlike the term "organic," which is specifically defined by the U.S. Agriculture Department.
So one of the "natural" products out there is Tropicana's "100% pure Florida orange juice." But a growing number of lawsuits have taken exception to the PepsiCo unit's use of that term because, they allege, Tropicana adds chemically engineered "flavor packs" to its juice so it tastes consistently sweet and the same year-round. The suit-bringers got together this week in court to figure out how to proceed.
Tropicana has declined to comment but said in a statement that it remains committed to ful compliance with labeling laws and to producing "great-tasting 100-percent orange juice."
Other brands, including PepsiCo's Tostitos and SunChips, and Snapple, and even Ben & Jerry's, have faced attacks over how they exploit the vague terms "natural" and "all-natural."
In Tropicana's case, it doesn't seem that anyone is disputing that it's products labeled as such are actually "100 percent orange juice." But it processes the juice to even out seasonal taste variations, which critics say should strip the brand of permission to call it "natural."
"The Tropicana product is manufactured," Tom Pirko, a leading beverage industry consultant, told brandchannel. "It tastes good but it is not as advertised the same as freshly squeezed."
Given the rising controversy over the use of terms such as "natural" and "all-natural" as sales in the category continue to boom, expect regulators to step in at some point — perhaps, welcomed by the industry as they were in sorting out what's a truly "organic" product or ingredient several years ago.
Transparency usually wins out with popular consumer products.