The farmers sued Kroger, Walmart, Costco, Albertsons, Safety, and other retailers back in 2019 for mislabeling coffee as Kona coffee.
Kona coffee beans are grown in a one-mile by 30-mile section of land between two volcanoes on the island of Hawaii. Brands carrying the beans usually go for a higher price.
However, Kroger and others said certain brands contained Kona beans when the beans were grown elsewhere.
The Cincinnati-based grocer reached a $13.5 million settlement with the farmers, who now say Kroger was still mislabeling certain products with a “Kona blend.”.
The settlement called for the retailer to clearly label in a specific type size the percentage of coffee beans from the Kona area on products that are a Kona blend. The farmers are alleging Kroger did not follow the guidelines of the agreement.
The group says it sent the retailer a letter after discovering the continued mislabeling in November 2022 but did not receive a response. In April, the farmers discovered Kroger was continuing to ignore the settlement and sent another letter.
Kroger responded this time and said it was following protocol, but the farmers disagreed.
The growers are now asking a District Court in Seattle to require Kroger to show revenue and profit produced by coffee with Kona blends to determine how much money it will seek in a new lawsuit.
In the suit, the farmers specifically mention a time it notified Kroger of a bulk bin in a QFC store in Seattle that was improperly labeled as a Kona blend in December 2022.
Kroger said it originally did not notify its QFC stores to check the coffee labels per the settlement, and said the Seattle incident was an honest mistake. It offered to pay for all profits related to the QFC incident during the time period in question beginning March 15.
Two other allegations involve Kroger mislabeling Private Selection coffee on its website and not being in touch with the farmers to determine gross profits “from breaches that they had never provided notice for, or which has been cured.”
Kroger wants the court to remove it from the farmers’ breach of settlement claims, and also says it did not receive proper notification of problems at certain store locations.
Kroger has not responded to a request for comment in time for publication.