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On 4th Mar '17, Amul marketed by Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF) aired a TV commercial emphasis on the difference between ice-cream and frozen desserts. They denigrated the frozen desserts, in which Kwality Walls had a major market distribution. Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) owns Kwality Walls which is the major player in ice-creams with brands such as Magnum and Cornetto.
HUL filed a suit against GCMMF on 21st Mar’17 in the Bombay High court for disparaging frozen desserts in their recent advertisement. Before the ad campaign could start, HUL sought GCMMF to withdraw the misleading advertisement. A single bench judge comprising of Justice S.J. Kathawalla heard HUL’s plea against GCMMF for misleading the customer about frozen desserts. GCMMF defended the accusation by stating that the advertisement was just to educate the customers to identify the difference between ice-cream and frozen desserts.
GCMMF applied for an injunction which got withdrawn and later judge declined any grant to GCMMF’s stay order on the suit.
GCMMF states that the advertisement is focusing on products that use poor quality milk solids. Frozen desserts producers mislead the customer by labelling real milk solids but instead use Vanaspati tel in it. As per Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) norms milk and milk solids products are labelled as ice-cream. On the other hand, desserts made without milk/dairy fats are labelled as frozen desserts which use vegetable fats instead.
GCMMF justified that only 30% of the frozen desserts manufacturers use hydrogenated vegetable oil. Although, in the advertisement, it clearly looks like it refers to all frozen dessert manufacturers. The judge directed GCMMF to stop airing such commercials and also not to direct any such commercials to frozen desserts or HUL products in an unfairly matter.
GCMMF challenged the order of the judge by appealing to the division bench of Justice Bhushan Gavai and Riyaz Chagla. They examined the TV commercial and stated that there is a stream of white milk flowing in the cup of the product of the Amul whereas in the cup labelled as “Frozen Dessert”, there are chunks of hydrogenated vegetable oil, which are murky in colour flowing in the cup.
The advertisement displays that the frozen desserts are made of Vanaspati tel or dalda, which is defined as vegetable oil. HUL argued stating that frozen desserts are made of vegetable fat and not by Vanaspati tel.
HUL also stated they use vegetable fats as they have lower saturated fats instead of dairy fats which makes it frozen dessert and not ice-cream. Amulcriticized frozen desserts for using Vanaspati which mislead the customers with their concern on the increasing health problems in the urban areas.
On 6th aug’18, HUL added Adityaa Milk’ ice cream brand from Karnataka-based Vijaykant Dairy and Food Products Ltd in its portfolio. They have been a strong number two player in ice creams. By acquiring Adtiyaa milk will help them win the suit against Amul.
After almost a year later, on 13th dec’18 the lawsuit came to an end with the judge ruling Amul to modify their commercial and relaunch it. On this HUL objected on the shots of Vanaspati flowing in the cup labelled as frozen desserts.