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Rancho Mirage, Calif.-based Clemmy’s Ice Cream has filed a civil antitrust and unfair competition lawsuit accusing Nestle of “unfair and monopolistic practices” in the sale of better-for-you ice cream products to supermarket chains across the country.
Filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, the Clemmy’s lawsuit alleges that Nestle – which owns the Dreyer’s, Edy’s and Skinny Cow ice cream brands, among others – engaged in a “coordinated campaign to shut down Clemmy’s” and to “severely limit” the availability of the plaintiff’s sugar-free ice cream in major supermarkets.
Clemmy’s specifically alleges that Nestle, as the majority market share owner of better-for-you ice cream sales, “abused its disproportionate control over product placement and purchasing decisions” at major national supermarket chains. The complaint claims that, in response to the “popularity and success” of Clemmy’s products, Nestle “undertook anti-competitive measures to stop the nationwide expansion” of Clemmy’s at grocery chains.
Nestle considers the lawsuit to be without merit. “We operate fairly and legally, in a highly competitive industry, in full compliance with applicable laws,” Hannah Coan, VP of corporate and brand affairs for Glendale, Calif.-based Nestle, told PG. “To allege that any single company controls the decisions of major national retailers ignores the realities of the marketplace. This is a transparent ploy to manufacture publicity for a brand that may be struggling because it has failed to win with consumers or for other reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with Nestlé. We look forward to vigorously defending ourselves in court.”
The complaint seeks both an order barring future anti-competitive practices by Nestle as well as damages for past violations.
Jon Gordon, Clemmy’s founder and owner, said the lawsuit is necessary “not only to redress Nestle’s misconduct, but to ensure consumers are not misled by Nestle’s advertising claims that its ice cream products – which, despite being advertised as ‘no sugar added,’ still have sugar – are an alternative to Clemmy’s ‘no sugar’ products.”
Gordon, who said in a press release that he started Clemmy’s in 2007 after being diagnosed with pre-diabetes, charges that Nestle’s business practices “harm not only Clemmy’s but also the ability of consumers to find truly sugar-free ice cream in their local markets.”