McCormick sued over pepper packaging discrepancy
- Minnesota-based company Watkins Inc. has filed a lawsuit against McCormick & Co., alleging that McCormick reduced the amount of pepper in its products by 25% without reducing the price or size of the packaging.
- In its lawsuit, Watkins says that McCormick, "gave the false impression that nothing had changed" though McCormick's tins "are now 25 percent empty, which constitutes nonfunctional 'slack-fill,' " the Associated Press reported.
- McCormick spokeswoman Lori Robinson said via statement to the Associated Press: "We followed industry standard procedures and were transparent about this change, clearly updating the net weight on packaging, issuing a UPC code change and notifying retailers well in advance. It is typical for packaging size and UPC code changes to take time in store to transition."
According to Watkins, McCormick violated laws for deceptive trade practices at the federal and state levels by misleading consumers and food retailers about the amount of pepper contained in its products, which remained the same size and price despite changes inside the packaging.
Part of Watkins' argument is that, as a major player, McCormick sets the precedent for the size of spice packaging, thus brands competing with McCormick will often use the same sizes. If McCormick reduces the amount of pepper in a product without reducing the price, its competition suffers from selling more product for a comparable price as McCormick in the same size packaging. There may be less pepper contained within the McCormick product, thus McCormick has a higher margin than its competitors for the same size packaging.
- Associated Press via Food Manufacturing Minnesota Company Sues Spice Maker McCormick Over Amount of Pepper in Tins
- StarTribune Watkins sues spice giant McCormick & Co. over pepper tins