Albertsons, Fred Meyer and Safeway settled with Hawaii farmers in a class action suit over forged Kona coffee
February 26 - 2022
Coffee Geography Magazine
The highly priced authentic Kona coffee beans from Hawaii are grown with the total average production capacity of 2.7 million pounds (1.23m kg) each year, however more than 20 million pounds (9.09m kg) of coffee labeled Kona are sold throughout the United Sates each year. In 2019, Hawaii farmers from the Big Island’s Kona district sued more than 20 companies after an extensive investigation where Coffee Geography Magazine were also reporting the case closely about huge production disparity had been verified in the market.
Now, after two years of reviews of legal documents and negotiations, a federal judge in Seattle granted preliminary approval for settlements with Kroger, which owns Fred Meyer, as well as the parent company of Safeway and Albertsons and a Honolulu-based roaster. The total settlement is now reached in the amount to $15.25 million. The settlements also include agreements forcing the companies not to use the Kona Coffee label falsely and to follow the rules and regulation according to the percentage blending criteria. The previous settlement on the similar case involved defenders including Costco, Amazon, Walmart and other retailers. The lawsuit claimed that the companies misled consumers into believing their products contain an substantial amount of Kona coffee beans in order to use the reputation and goodwill of the Kona name to justify higher prices for what is actually ordinary coffee from other regions. The alleged false designation damages the geographic designation itself and the designation’s value to the farmers of authentic Kona coffee according to the allegation claim.
Florida-based Gold Coffee Roasters agreed to pay $6 million to more than 600 coffee growers who are class members in the lawsuit. Kroger also faced a huge fine for $1.35 million while Costco and Marshalls agreed to change their labeling practices. The coffee growers are represented by Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein and the payment amount will depend on how much coffee a farmer sold during a specific period, according to the law firm. A final hearing for the settlements with Kroger, Safeway and Hawaiian Isles Coffee is scheduled for June. /p>