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June 1, 2020

Nestle ‘loses plant-based burger spat with Impossible Foods but plans to appeal’

Nestlé has changed the name of its plant-based Incredible Burger marketed in Europe after a trademark spat with a US-based competitor.

By Dean Best

Swiss food giant Nestlé has changed the name of its plant-based Incredible Burger marketed in Europe after US-based competitor Impossible Foods won a court injunction in the Netherlands over a trademark spat.

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Nestlé launched the Incredible Burger in Europe in 2019 under its Garden Gourmet brand with the meat-free patties appearing on shelves in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.

Meanwhile, Nestlé also supplies meat-free burgers in the US under a different designation, Awesome Burger, which is manufactured by its local unit Sweet Earth.

Impossible Foods claims Nestlé’s Incredible product is too similar in name to its own plant-based meat alternative, the Impossible Burger.

Last October, Impossible Foods made an application with the European Food Safety Authority to sell its plant-based burgers in Europe but has yet to enter the market.

The Financial Times newspaper reported how the ruling by the District Court in The Hague noted how Nestlé had approached Impossible Foods for a possible licensing or partnership deal in the summer of 2018 but later that year announced that it would be launching its own product. The court stated Nestlé appeared to have tried to frustrate Impossible Foods’ entry into the European market by offering its own plant-based foods under a similar name.

In its preliminary judgement last week, the District Court in The Hague said Nestlé had infringed Impossible Foods’ trademarks, and the similar names were likely to confuse consumers, according to the FT. The court has now prohibited Nestlé from using the ‘Incredible’ designation throughout Europe and has given the company four weeks to comply or face EUR25,000 (US$27,754) a day in fines.

Nestlé has consequently changed the name of the Incredible Burger to the Sensational Burger but plans to appeal the court decision, the FT said.

In a statement obtained by the FT, Nestlé said: “We are disappointed by this provisional ruling as it is our belief that anyone should be able to use descriptive terms such as ‘incredible’ that explain the qualities of a product. We will of course abide by this decision, but in parallel, we will file an appeal.”

just-food has also approached the company for confirmation and an idea of when it plans to lodge an appeal but had not heard back at the time of writing.

Meanwhile, Dana Wagner, Impossible Foods’ chief legal officer, told the newspaper that “we don’t want them confusing people into thinking their products are our products”. He added: “We’re grateful that the court recognised the importance of our trademarks and supported our efforts to protect our brand against incursion from a powerful multinational giant.”

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Free Report
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What’s the forecast for the food and grocery industry?

The food and grocery sector thrived during the pandemic, largely due to the shutdown of the food service industry and the sector’s subsequent necessity, panic-induced bulk purchasing, and spending more time at home. The market has grown as a result of inflation. Consumer unwillingness to go out and socialize, and the reopening of several hospitality facilities, helped maintain the demand for groceries, particularly online, in 2021. As consumer behavior changes, we consume more food and drink at home, and inflation increases basket sizes. GlobalData predicts that the sector will continue to hold a higher share than had been predicted prior to the pandemic. This is true despite the fact that the food and grocery sector's share of overall retail will decline from its peak in 2020. This report will discuss market forecasts and key themes in the global food & grocery industry in 2022 and beyond. It covers:
  • Market drivers and inhibitors
  • Five-year forecasts and the impact of COVID-19
  • The performance of the online channel versus offline
  • Major trends in the market including rapid delivery, ambient retailing, supply chain disruption, and inflation
Assess developments within this sector to help your business thrive in 2022 and beyond.
by GlobalData
Enter your details here to receive your free Report.

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