Hampton Creek has posted the following image on its Facebook page. The firm said it has had 18,000 messages of support in 24 hours

Hampton Creek has posted the following image on its Facebook page. The firm said it has had 18,000 messages of support in 24 hours

Unilever has filed a lawsuit against US firm Hampton Creek, alleging its Just Mayo product is a fraud and damaging to the mayonnaise sector.

According to court documents from the United States District Court of New Jersey, dated 31 October, Unilever said the Just Mayo brand "is not mayonnaise at all...it is a plant-based vegan alternative to real mayonnaise".

The Hellmann's owner said under "federal regulations, common dictionary definitions - and as consumers understand it - mayonnaise or mayo is a product that contains eggs". It added Just Mayo "does not perform like real mayonnaise" nor does it "taste of real mayonnaise".

"Hampton Creek's literally-false name and its unsubstantiated superiority claims have already caused consumer deception and serious, irreparable harm to Unilever and to the product category the industry has taken great care to define in a way consistent with consumer expectations. On information and belief, Just Mayo already is stealing market share from Hellmann's," said Unilever in the document.

Hampton Creek, whose product is sold in Walmart, Costco and Kroger in the US, said on its Facebook page it had received 18,000 messages of support in a 24-hour period. The company had not responded to requests for comment at the time of writing.