PepsiCo’s green juice has the company in hot water.
In a lawsuit filed Tuesday, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a consumer-advocacy group, said PepsiCo misled consumers by marketing its Naked Juice beverages as healthier than they really are.
CSPI states that Naked Juice can pack more sugar than a can of Pepsi. Its Pomegranate Blueberry juice, for example, accurately advertises that it is a no-sugar-added beverage, but even still a single 15.2-ounce container (the smallest option) contains 61 grams of sugar, about 50% more sugar than a 12-ounce can of Pepsi.
Further, CSPI says Naked Juices mislead customers into believing that beverages are packed with super nutrients when the dominant ingredients are “cheap, nutrient-poor” juices. The Kale Blazer juice, for example, is mostly orange and apple juice, despite packaging and marketing that emphasizes leafy-green imagery.
— Kale (@TweetsByKale) March 4, 2016
CSPI’s biggest legal problem with Naked Juice isn’t that the beverages are unhealthy; it’s that the brand is marketed as a healthy option with taglines such as “only the best ingredients” and “just the healthiest fruits and vegetables.”
“Consumers are paying higher prices for the healthful and expensive ingredients advertised on Naked labels, such as berries, cherries, kale and other greens, and mango,” CSPI litigation director Maia Kats said in a statement. “But consumers are predominantly getting apple juice, or in the case of Kale Blazer, orange and apple juice. They’re not getting what they paid for.”
PepsiCo described CSPI’s lawsuit as baseless and said there is nothing misleading about its Naked Juice products, and that bottles clearly identify what fruit and vegetables are used.
“All products in the Naked portfolio proudly use fruits and/or vegetables with no sugar added, and all Non-GMO claims on label are verified by an independent third party,” PepsiCo said in a statement. “Any sugar present in Naked Juice products comes from the fruits and/or vegetables contained within and the sugar content is clearly reflected on label for all consumers to see.”
The class-action lawsuit aims to force PepsiCo to award monetary damages to customers who have purchased Naked Juice beverages, as well as adjust its marketing to be more transparent.