Dairy brand Tillamook is misleading consumers to believe “humane” claims through deceptive marketing practices, alleges a recently filed lawsuit by animal-protection organization Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) on behalf of four plaintiffs, consumers of Tillamook products who have been misled by such claims. The lawsuit outlines Tillamook’s marketing strategies, which wholly revolve around depicting its dairy suppliers as small family farms who treat animals well, preserve the environment, and foster wellness in their local communities, appealing to consumers who are willing to pay a premium to avoid purchasing dairy produced on factory farms. “Tillamook is exploiting consumers’ desire to treat animals better by misleading people about how its cows are kept. This violates the public’s trust and violates the law,” ALDF staff attorney Amanda Howell told VegNews. “Tillamook’s advertising campaigns are designed to mislead consumers that the company’s products are sourced from humane, pasture-based, small-scale family farms, where animal care standards exceed those of other dairy companies. But this is far from reality.”
ADLF points out that Tillamook—which makes an effort to distinguish itself from what it calls “Big Food”—in fact sources upwards of two thirds of its milk from Threemile Canyon Farms, a large factory farm in Boardman, OR. “The Tillamook County Creamery Association’s heavily advertised ‘co-op’ of small family farms in Tillamook County represent just a tiny proportion of the company’s production,” Howell said. “Tillamook sources up to 80 percent of its milk from the largest dairy feedlot in the world. Located in the desert of eastern Oregon, the facility that provides the majority of Tillamook’s milk keeps over 70,000 cows in inhumane, industry standard conditions.” ALDF seeks class-action status on the lawsuit for all consumers that were mislead by Tillamook’s claims, which included the recent “Dairy Done Right” campaign that is largely responsible for increasing the company’s revenue by up to 70 percent.