Food – The South African – Oops, they did it again: Woolworths accused of stealing “SuperLatte” idea

News The South African

We’ve got our second major Woolworths plagiarism scandal of 2019: Woolies are accused of blatantly ripping of the “SuperLatte” brand.

Retail and food giants Woolworths have been hit with fresh accusations of plagiarism by the owner of the SuperLatte brand. Michelle Legge, who had created three healthy “super-food” drinks, has shared her dismay after seeing that Woolies had completely stolen her idea.

Legge shared her ordeal in a blog post which went live last week. Her three flavours – turmeric, beetroot and matcha latte powder blend – had wowed national health-grocery chains and received an overwhelmingly positive reception at the Good Food and Wine Festival in June 2017.

Woolworths accused of “stealing” SuperLatte idea

However, it was around this time that she noticed Woolworths had taken a shine to the product. In fact, they liked it so much, they placed their own version of SuperLatte (named “Super Lattes” on their menu, so no-one would suspect a thing) inside their cafe outlets.

“Super Lattes” on the Woolworths Cafe menu (Michelle Legge)

The health-food pioneer decided to keep quiet on the whole affair, assuming this would just be a passing phase. But any hopes that this act of plagiarism could indirectly benefit her business were dashed after she received criticism for Woolworths’ poor imitation of her product. Legge describes the damage this has done to her brand:

“As it turned out, the loss of a chance to work with Woolies was the last thing to worry about. In their possible attempts at re-creating my concept and flavours, they’d arguably opted for recipes and ingredients which, in my opinion, could tarnish the fledgeling category in terms of quality and taste.”

“Customers and followers were sharing that they’d had one of ‘my lattes’ at Woolies, or, that the lattes on offer tasted ‘horrible’. Of course they hadn’t had a SuperLatte but something which looked and sounded like it.”

Michelle Legge, SuperLatte founder

Key differences between a SuperLatte and Super Lattes

  • The Woolworths blends are relatively high in sugar.
  • In the packaged form of the Woolies product, the drinks are not plant-based.
  • Additional use of milk powder in the product, “cheapening” the health benefits.
  • According to critical feedback, Legge’s brand actually tastes good.
“Super Lattes” in stock at Woolies. (Michelle Legge)

What Legge wants from Woolworths

Where do we go from here? Well, much like we saw with the Ubuntu Baby Carrier controversy at the start of the year, the blog post has already gained a lot of attention online. The public outcry is the first step towards holding Woolworths accountable for their actions.

Secondly, Legge is asking for her identity back. The SuperLatte brand is her unique creation, and she wants the conglomerate to actually acknowledge her hard work and credit her accordingly. In her opinion, a “menu refresh” is needed to sort out yet another theft of intellectual property at the hands of Woolworths.