BOSTON (CN) – Ocean Spray claims a rival launched a media smear campaign accusing it of leaving the cranberry out of its sweetened dried cranberries. The industry giant claims Decas Cranberry Products created the website Scamberry.org as part of an “unlawful and malicious campaign” accusing Ocean Spray of “abandoning the cranberry.”
“Decas Cranberry launched this campaign against Ocean Spray, its direct competitor, in or about 2009, and has used a variety of tactics and media for its campaign, including widely distributed letters and emails, internet blogs and websites, Facebook accounts, YouTube videos and Twitter postings,” Ocean Spray claims in Federal Court.
“Recently, as part of this campaign, Decas Cranberry … [has] solicited cranberry growers (including Ocean Spray’s grower-owners) not to work with Ocean Spray, and to join a lawsuit against Ocean Spray by falsely claiming that Ocean Spray is violating the law, including the federal antitrust laws.”
Scamberry.org accuses Ocean Spray of falsely labeling and marketing its “choice” brand sweetened dried cranberries that it sells for use in trail mix and other snacks.
According to Ocean Spray, the website claims that the choice product “contains little or no cranberry soluble solids. The bulk of the solids are derived from the cane sugar. The color derives from a blend of cranberry and elderberry. The acidity derives from elderberry juice and added citric acid.”
The National Consumers League complained to the Food and Drug Administration in 2009, accusing Ocean Spray of falsely marketing the choice product.
But Ocean Sprays claims its choice product “is made from Grade A superior frozen whole cranberries which are then sliced and sent through [Ocean Spray’s] patented process including infusion of sugar, citric acid and elderberry juice to infuse flavor and color.” The choice dried cranberries were “specifically developed … to meet its industrial customers’ demands for their variety of recipes that require specific taste, texture, size and color combinations,” Ocean Spray adds.
Ocean Spray has sued Decas for allegedly violating the Agricultural Fair Practices Act and state fair-trade laws.
The company seeks to stop the smear campaign and demands unspecified damages.
It is represented by Ethan Brown of Latham & Watkins in Los Angeles.