Starbucks faced a lawsuit accusing its popular line of fruit-based Refresher drinks. The allegation was sparked due to the missing fruits that were promoted during product marketing.
Joan Kominis, an Astoria resident, bought a Strawberry Acai Lemonade Refresher in late 2021, having in mind that the drink included acai, according to the suit filed on August 5. However, the complaint claims the product only contained frozen strawberries and a blend of “water, grape juice concentrate, and sugar.” Meanwhile, other products in the Refresher line are also absent of advertised fruits like mango and passionfruit, the suit declares.
The case states that Kominis wouldn’t have purchased the product it its premium price if she were aware the beverage didn’t contain acai and therefore comprised none of the fruit’s health benefits. In Manhattan, a medium Strawberry Acai Lemonade Refresher goes for $5.65.
“The presence of fruit in the products is central to the product’s identity,” reads the complaint, which argues the inclusion of acai, mango, and passionfruit in Refresher product names and advertising created a reasonable expectation they would be found in the beverages. “Starbuck’s hot chocolate contains cocoa, its matcha lattes contain matcha, and its honey mint tea contains honey and mint, just as consumers expect.”
While the lawsuit didn’t indicate the amount Kominis is seeking, it claims “the amount of controversy” is over $5 million.
“We are aware of the lawsuit. The allegations in the complaint are inaccurate and without merit. We look forward to defending ourselves against these claims,” wrote Starbucks spokesperson Megan Adams in an emailed statement, as reported by the Observer.
Starbucks has been in a similar position a few times already regarding marketing perceived as deceptive. In 2021, a Rhode Island resident sued the company regarding its Vanilla Frappuccino. The litigant alleged the product was misleadingly branded, as it included ‘natural flavor’ but no vanilla. The suit was later rejected.