MARLTON, N.J. — Wegmans Food Markets, Inc., Whole Foods, Inc., and Acme Markets, Inc. have been hit with false advertising class action lawsuits after a group of individuals called into the question the grocers’ use of the terms “store baked,” “baked in store” and “made in house.”
The lawsuits were filed in Camden County Superior Court in December.
The lawsuits were brought by three individuals from New Jersey who alleged that the defendants “engaged into deceptive, false, misleading, fraudulent and unconscionable commercial practices in the sale, marketing, and advertising of bread and bakery products.”
The plaintiffs are asking for injunctive and declaratory relief as well as damages suffered as a result of the alleged false statements. The class action lawsuits all say that the proposed class includes more than 10,000 individuals for the main class and 5,000 for the proposed sub-class.
In the case of Wegmans, the lawsuit stated that the grocer’s stores display in-store signs such as “store baked rolls,” which advertise and suggest that its baked goods are freshly baked in stores.
“Therefore, it was defendant’s intent to induce consumers to purchase its bread and bakery products by falsely stating that they are baked in stores; when they are pre-baked elsewhere and delivered to each store, and/or stored frozen or at certain temperature for a period of time and/or reheated or half-baked prior to sale. It was defendant’s intent to mislead consumers they are buying bread and bakery products that were ‘made in house’ from scratch when defendant sold bread and bakery products that were frozen, delivered to its stores, and then re-baked or partially baked in store.”
The plaintiffs claimed to be “health conscious individuals” who are willing to pay a premium for products made in store, but “would not have purchased bread and bakery products if they had known that defendant’s products were in fact baked at another facility, delivered to and/or stored at its stores under a certain temperature for a period of time, and/or reheated prior to its sale.”Wegmans, Whole Foods and Acme have not commented on the lawsuits.