SAN ANTONIO — Greenhouse grower NatureSweet has filed an unfair competition lawsuit against Mastronardi Produce LTD and Mastronardi Produce-USA, Inc., with the claim that Mastronardi has copied its package design with the intent to confuse consumers.

NatureSweet tomatoes next to Sunset tomatoesSource: NatureSweet

The lawsuit pertains to NatureSweet’s Cherub snacking tomatoes, which are packaged in a clear plastic dome with a yellow lid.

According to NatureSweet, Mastronardi has been copying that packaging and that the design does not match the branding Mastronardi has been using the last several years.

NatureSweet claims that Mastronardi is attempting to “borrow” the equity the NatureSweet Cherubs brand has established.

“At NatureSweet, we feel an obligation to protect our customers and consumers since we are committed to delivering the best quality products on a consistent basis,” said Rodolfo Spielmann, president and CEO of NatureSweet. “Because of that, consumers and customers have rewarded us with more than three times the sales compared to our next competitor. We are surprised that when we invest millions of dollars in marketing in our brand which drove category growth, others would need to resort to copying our known packaging to confuse consumers and draft on our investment.”

According to NatureSweet, Mastronardi has previously copied NatureSweet’s branding two other times in 2012 and 2021. Both of NatureSweet’s lawsuits at those times resulted in Mastronardi changing its packaging.

NatureSweet’s current request is for Mastronardi to cease the use of its new packaging for its grape tomatoes.

“After years of significant research, resources, and investment, NatureSweet has developed its unique assets for the brand,” Spielmann said. “This is an issue of trust and integrity for NatureSweet, our associates, customers and consumers.”