Dr Pepper Snapple now faces multiple lawsuits alleging that it engages in false advertising for Canada Dry by claiming that the carbonated soft drink is “Made from Real Ginger.”
On June 26, Judge Nathanael Cousins of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California granted class certification in a case brought by Californians Jackie Fitzhenry-Russell and Geghman Margaryan, rejecting Dr Pepper Snapple’s motion to quash the certification.
The plaintiffs assert that their decisions to buy Canada Dry were influenced by the “made from real ginger” claim, which has been used on the brand’s packaging, as well as in its advertising. The suit charges that the brand’s claim is false, citing independent testing showing that there was no “detectable” amount of real ginger in the beverage — that the product is actually made with “ginger extract that includes less than two parts per million of any ginger compounds in the final product,” reports the The Dallas News.
The suit also charges that Dr Pepper Snapple wrongly benefitted from a consumer perception that ginger confers health benefits.
The suit cites data showing that Canada Dry sales grew by nearly 9% in the six months following the addition of the “Made from Real Ginger” claim to its label, amid sales declines in the overall carbonated soft drink segment. It also cites research done by the beverage maker showing that a quarter of Canada Dry consumers were listing the ginger claim as one of their top five reasons for buying the soda.
Immediately following Judge Cousins’s ruling, on June 30, a Massachusetts man, Sam Fisher, filed a similar suit, asserting that he purchased Canada Dry because he believed that the product was healthier than other sodas, based on its ginger claim.
A third class-action suit making similar claims is also pending in California, according to The Dallas News.
The Massachusetts lawsuit claims that Dr Pepper Snapple “decided in 2007 that it needed to market Canada Dry as healthier than other sodas,” but found in its internal research that “two out of three consumers did not believe Canada Dry included any real ginger.,” reports the newspaper. The company considered adding real ginger, but “didn’t want to jeopardize changing the taste, and decided instead to market the product differently,” the lawsuit states. This suit also claims that the product’s sales increased as a direct result of the “real ginger” marketing claim.
Dr Pepper Snapple Group declined to comment on the pending litigation.