A proposed class action claims consumers have been misled by Bigelow Tea’s “manufactured in the USA” representations given no Bigelow-branded tea is grown or processed in the United States.
Filed by two California residents, the 34-page lawsuit alleges defendant R.C. Bigelow, Inc. has led consumers to believe its tea products are American-made when, in truth, “the products are comprised solely of foreign-sourced and processed tea.”
According to the case, no Bigelow-branded tea products, including the following varieties purported to be “manufactured in the USA,” contain tea leaves grown in America:
Bigelow Earl Grey Black Tea;
Bigelow English Teatime Black Tea;
Bigelow Green Tea with Ginger;
Bigelow Matcha Green with Turmeric;
Bigelow Green Tea with Pomegranate;
Bigelow Green Tea Decaffeinated;
Bigelow “Constant Comment” Black Tea; and
Bigelow Vanilla Chai Black Tea.
Citing representations on Bigelow’s website, the suit says the tea leaves in Bigelow tea products are derived from camellia sinensis plants grown and processed on tea plantations and in processing plants in foreign nations such as India and Sri Lanka.
The United States grows only a “miniscule [sic] amount of tea,” with the nation’s lone tea plantation sitting on 127 acres in Charleston, South Carolina, the lawsuit explains. While Bigelow owns the Charleston Tea Plantation, none of the aforementioned products are made with tea grown there, the suit alleges, adding that the Charleston Tea Plantation brand is the “only brand of tea in the world that is made exclusively with 100% tea grown in America.”
The two plaintiffs claim they were misled by representations on Bigelow’s packaging—such as “America’s Classic,” and “Manufactured in the USA 100% American Family Owned”—that, taken together, “create the impression” that the products were made in the U.S.
“Plaintiffs and Class members did not know, and had no reason to know, that the Products were not manufactured in the USA, because of how the Products are falsely and deceptively packaged,” the complaint states.
Through its allegedly deceptive advertising, Bigelow has attempted to “exploit strong consumer sentiment for American products,” the lawsuit argues, adding that the plaintiffs and proposed class members would have paid less for the tea, or would not have purchased it at all, had they known the truth about the products’ source.
According to the suit, Bigelow commands approximately 24 percent of the market share for bagged/loose-leaf tea in the U.S., producing roughly 1.7 billion bags annually.
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