We don’t have to remind anyone who markets a food product that the number of consumer class actions has grown tremendously.  And nowhere is that perhaps more evident than with the use of the term “natural.”

Does the use of the adjective “artisanal” with respect to food threaten to become the next “natural?”  Perhaps.  But if you’re using that term in your advertising or labeling you may want to give it a second hard look.  Odds are that the class action folks may be doing so as well.

A recent network report looked at the proliferation of food products that are described as artisan or artisanal. (The report claims it is over a $1 billion business.)  But not before quoting a definition of artisan that conjures up images of a cheesemaker practicing his craft in a garage or basement.  Without picking on any brands – though you can be sure the reporter does – the story goes on to contrast this image of hard-crafted limited supply products with some of the mass produced products that bear the label artisan today.

Is the term being used in a misleading way?  Do consumers really believe large multi-national companies are handcrafting products?  Is it just puffing?  The answer, as always, lies with consumer perception.  But for class action wary food companies this may be a claim to keep a close eye on.