Alpro has welcomed a court ruling in the Netherlands restricting the use of the word ‘yoghurt’ for soya products.

The yoghurt maker said today (11 June) it welcomes the clarity the ruling has created and stressed it will still be able to call its products ‘plant-based yoghurt variation’.

Legal action was filed against Alpro by Dutch dairy industry group NZO, which wanted the company to stop using the word ‘yoghurt’ when referring to its Mild & Creamy yoghurt alternative. NZO said consumers might confuse it for a dairy product.

In a ruling on 30 May, a court in Breda, Holland, said Alpro should not be allowed to use ‘yoghurt’ on its own in a way that could suggest Mild & Creamy is a dairy product. However, the court said Alpro could still use ‘yoghurt’ in combination with other words – such as ‘plant-based yoghurt variation’ – that make it clear the product is not a dairy product.

A spokesperson for Alpro, which is owned by US dairy giant Dean Foods, told just-food NZO had expected to receive “a much broader injunction” that included derivations or combinations of dairy.

“This decision confirms that non misleading derivatives and combinations of the word yoghurt, can continue to be used for such soy-based variations which are a nutritional alternative for yoghurt.”

Alpro said the judge had given “helpful suggestions” for a lawful use of the word ‘yoghurt’ and that it is “satisfied” with the ruling that offers an “even playing field” for dairy and plant based yoghurt producers.

“We advocate honest competition, where there is room for both dairy-based yoghurt and soya-based plant based variations. Today, the judge ruled that this is a reasonable and justified position,” said Alpro CEO Bernard Deryckere.