Bob Crawford, executive director of the Florida Department of Citrus, said if P&G doesn't act voluntarily to either change the product's marketing or increase the amount of juice in the product, a lawsuit or a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission is "the next step."
Mr. Crawford several weeks ago in Florida accused P&G of misleading consumers into believing Sunny Delight was orange juice. In Washington today, Mr. Crawford unveiled a survey he claimed proved consumers are confused and a Web site, www.sunnydeception.org.
Sold next to OJ
Sunny Delight's labeling says the drink contains 5% fruit juice, but Mr. Crawford said P&G is putting the drink in grocer cold food sections where orange juice is sold. Ads from Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi, New York, and the product's Web site continue the deception, he said, with the Web site prominently displaying portions of oranges.
The survey, done by Peter D. Hart Research Associates, says that nearly half of prospective buyers of Sunny Delight believe the product is half or mostly fruit juice.
A P&G spokeswoman said today the company doesn't feel it is misleading consumers.
Label is clear
"We're very confident consumers understand Sunny Delight is a fruit drink and not fruit juice," she said, adding that label clearly states the drink has 5% fruit juice.
She said Sunny Delight fully complies with U.S. Food and Drug Administration labeling requirements and is sold alongside orange juice in some stores because it needs to be kept refrigerated.
P&G, the spokeswoman said, positions Sunny Delight against soft drinks and other youth-oriented fruit drinks such as Coca-Cola Co.'s Hi-C rather than orange juice. She went on to say that P&G research shows "there's not a substantial number of consumers who would substitute Sunny Delight for orange juice."
She said Sunny Delight contains added vitamins A, C, B-1 and calcium, which are often not found in soft drinks.
But P&G's additives to Sunny Delight caused a stir in the U.K. last year after a girl turned orange from drinking large quantities of the product. Her orange hue was caused by beta carotene, a naturally occurring substance found in carrots and used to add color and vitamin A to Sunny Delight, the spokeswoman said. She said P&G increased the fruit juice content of Sunny Delight in the U.K. to 15% based consumer feedback prior to the incident.
Mr. Crawford said the state of Florida would like to see Sunny Delight containing a majority of juice, but would at least like the same 15% content found in the U.K.