Two dairy co-ops are going head-to-head over the authenticity of their yoghurts.
Icelandic dairy co-op MS Iceland has announced a deal to sell its skyr yoghurt in the UK, at Waitrose – part of the employee-owned John Lewis Partnership.
It hailed this as the first time that the Icelandic-style yoghurt has been available in British supermarkets.
But Arla Foods, another dairy co-op, has been selling its own skyr yoghurt in the UK – including Waitrose – for some time.
The issue lies in where the product is made. MS Iceland’s yoghurt is produced in Iceland, the co-op sourcing its milk from 700 farms in the country. However Arla makes its yoghurt in Germany and MS Iceland is not happy about them claiming to be authentically Icelandic.
The two co-ops have been clashing through their advertising campaigns. Firstly, Arla launched a campaign set in Iceland, showing a young boy growing up while eating the Arla skyr yoghurt.
Secondly, a reply to a British woman on their Facebook page read: “Hello everyone. Sorry for the late reply – the time difference here in Höfn makes it difficult for me sometimes.” The post attracted complaints from Icelanders complaining about Arla pretending to be Icelandic, as well as the inaccuracy over the time difference.
Jón Axel Pétursson, director of sales and marketing at MS Iceland Dairies asked where the Arla factory is, “Because nobody in Höfn, which is a small town in Iceland, is aware that you are staying there.”
He added: “How about being honest to your consumers in the UK and tell them the truth: this is not an Icelandic skyr that you are selling in the UK. It’s a yoghurt that is produced in Germany and has nothing to do with the real Icelandic skyr.” He also said that the two products had competed in Sweden for years, without Arla resorting to overly Icelandic imagery.
MS Iceland hit back with their own adverts. The ad shows a pot of their skyr yoghurt attempting to talk to an Arla pot in Icelandic, before it quickly becomes clear the Arla product can’t speak the language.
“How predictable”, the MS Iceland pot says, before walking away.
But a spokesperson for Arla welcomed MS Iceland’s skyr yoghurt to the UK. They said: “Some 70% of Arla Skyr sales are adding incremental value to the yoghurt category and it has proven itself with consumers by reaching a high repeat purchase rate.”