Blue Diamond Smokehouse Almonds are not actually smoked but have added smoked flavor, despite their packaging suggesting they have been through the smoking process, according to a lawsuit. Matthew Colpitts, represented by Spencer Sheehan, filed a class action suit against Blue Diamond Growers for what he alleges is negligent misrepresentation, fraud, and unjust enrichment. He says in the complaint the almonds are “purporting to obtain their flavor through actually being smoked.” He claims consumers prefer foods that have tastes because of their production process, for example being smoked rather than the smoked flavor.
According to Colpitts, smoking involves being cooked over a fire with wood chips which provide a unique flavor depending on the wood. Since the product does not specify that it is a smoke flavor, rather than the method of cooking, he says consumers have the impression that the almonds have been smoked. He also says the trademark symbol next to the word “Smokehouse” on the packaging adds to this interpretation.
“The label makes direct representations that the Product’s primary recognizable flavor is due to being smoked, through the statement “Smokehouse” and the color scheme evocative of the fire used in actual smoking with red and orange-red coloring, such that smoke is reasonably understood by consumers to be its characterizing flavor,” the complaint says.
Because smoked almonds are not hard to acquire, he claims a consumer will not be prompted to verify if the item is actually smoked. “Foods labeled “strawberry shortcake,” “Smokehouse almonds” or “apple pie” are expected by consumers to get their flavor from strawberries, actual smoking and apples,” the complaint says.
He claims Blue Diamond is taking advantage of consumer trust in their brand. Although the ingredient list does say “natural hickory smoke flavor,” Colpitts says this does not remedy the situation as a reasonable consumer would not know that this means the almonds were not smoked as well. He claims consumers may purchase them because of the appearance despite them being sold at a premium price compared to similar products. “Had plaintiff and class members known the truth, they would not have bought the product or would have paid less for it.”
The suit is located in the Southern District of New York and the class involves any who purchased the product in New York or the other 49 states. Colpitts is seeking class-wide injunctive relief because the misleading packaging is still on shelves as well as monetary damages and legal costs.