A proposed class action alleges the makers of AvoDerm dog and cat food have falsely advertised the product in that it contains little to no avocado.
The 46-page case out of California claims that while defendants Central Garden & Pet Company and Breeder’s Choice Pet Foods tout that avocado is the key ingredient and foundation of AvoDerm, the product contains, in truth, “negligible amounts” of the superfood.
According to the nine-count false advertising suit, the amounts of avocado present in AvoDerm actually come from a powder that consists of “a very small percentage of dried avocado, if any at all,” with the rest comprised mainly of several other dried or dehydrated ingredients. Moreover, the defendants’ failure to specify that whatever avocado is used in AvoDerm is dried is also misleading, the case alleges.
Compounding matters, according to the complaint, is that the apparent benefits derived from the use of avocado in AvoDerm are claimed to come specifically from California avocados and oil derived from the state. The plaintiffs allege that these California-avocado claims are also false, specifically in that any avocado and avocado oil in AvoDerm, which is labeled with a “Made in the USA” designation, are sourced from outside the United States, including from Mexico or other foreign countries.
The lawsuit alleges AvoDerm’s makers have run afoul of consumer protection laws in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
As the lawsuit tells it, consumers’ desire for avocado and its benefits as a “super food” rich in vitamins, minerals and amino acids extends to their pets, seemingly as part of a “pet food humanization trend” over recent years. In light of the ongoing trend, the defendants have relied upon their marketing of AvoDerm to mislead and induce consumers into “pay[ing] more for the product than they would” without the representations centered on the use of real avocado and avocado oil, the complaint alleges.
The defendants’ claim that they use only California avocados in AvoDerm is at particular issue in the lawsuit. In addition to being grown locally, California avocados can go right from tree to consumption in a matter of days, and are known to be grown in highly rich soil and “sublime weather conditions” while under strict pesticide and preservative regulations, the case says.
“Indeed, Defendants have recognized these benefits to California-grown avocados compared to foreign-grown avocados and targets its [sic] consumers with this very point,” the suit charges.
A problem, according to the case, is that there is no consistent, year-round supply of California avocados, which have a harvest season that lasts only eight months from February through September and leave the off-season months with virtually no harvest. Per the case, the California avocado market yields only approximately four percent of the global avocado production. Adding in the number of California-grown avocados that are shipped to Asia and Korea for human consumption given Mexico charges an exporting tax on the superfood to some countries, there’s left a severely limited supply of California avocados to process for dog and cat food, which come at “an impractically high price for the pet industry,” the lawsuit avers.
Still further, the market for dried avocado powder made from California-grown avocados is even more limited than the market for fresh California-grown avocados, the complaint says. As such, the defendants rely not upon California avocado powder, but on powder products in large quantities in Mexico, New Zealand and other countries, the suit alleges.
With regard to avocado oil derived from California avocados, the lawsuit says the supply is even more limited than that of the fruit itself. From the complaint:
“Plaintiffs are informed, and on that basis believe, that there are only two manufacturers of avocado oil that produce oil from California avocados. Both of these manufacturers only produce large volumes of extra virgin quality from California avocados. No large volumes of refined oil exists [sic] from California avocados. Thus, all avocado oil of refined quality comes from non-California (and more likely non-USA) avocados.”
Despite the obvious limitations and impracticalities of hitching advertising and marketing claims for AvoDerm to avocados and oil supposedly derived from California, the defendants have nonetheless chosen to mislead consumers as to the characteristics and qualities of their dog and cat food, the lawsuit alleges.
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