BUFFALO, N.Y. (CN) – The maker of Vitaminwater energy drinks hired a family farm to feed 100,000 cases of “unsalable” beverage to its livestock and recycle the packaging, but the farm instead sold the tainted drinks to parties that passed it on to retailers for public sale, Glaceau claims in Federal Court.
The manufacturer claims the products marked for destruction “started showing up on shelves” of retailers across the country.
Jorgensen Farms and Food Waste Recycling Systems offered to pick up unfit or expired food and drink from manufacturers for free, saying it would convert the products into livestock feed and recycle the packaging, Glaceau claims.
On its Web site, the Nebraska farm states that for the past 70 years, it has tended crops and raised livestock, but that “times have changed, and we have found ways to feed our animals using food companies’ waste product.”
“Using our unique state of the art machinery we take the product and separate it from the packaging,” Jorgensen explains online. “The product, liquid or dry, is mixed with livestock feed and fed to our own animals. The packaging is baled and shipped to recycling facilities all around the United States.”
Glaceau took up the offer and had Jorgensen pick up “unsalable” energy drinks from its bottling plants. The farm’s owner, Dexter Jorgensen, allegedly sent an email saying the cases were destroyed and even provided certificates of destruction.
A few months later, Glaceau says it learned that an unauthorized retailer was reselling the Vitaminwater that was supposedly fed to animals. Jorgensen sold the drinks to Avers Merchandise Group, Hoffmans Trade Group and other parties, which then resold the drinks to retailers, the lawsuit claims.
When confronted about the alleged fraud, Jorgensen claimed that he had no record of ever having done business with Glaceau, according to the lawsuit.
Glaceau sued the farm and owners Dexter, Warren and Noreen Jorgenson for breach of contract, fraud and trademark infringement. It also sued the two groups that allegedly bought the products from Jorgensen, along with their owners.
The plaintiff is represented by Christopher J. Belter with Goldberg Segalla.
Glaceau, also called Energy Brands, is a privately owned subsidiary of Coca-Cola. In 2006 it reportedly generated $350 million in revenue. It is based in Queens, N.Y.