LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--A judge has ruled Don Lee Farms proved the probable validity of its claim that Beyond Meat breached its manufacturing agreement with Don Lee Farms. The Court issued a Right to Attach Order. In a separate motion before a different Judge, the Court granted Don Lee Farms’ request to name Beyond Meat Chief Financial Officer Mark Nelson, Senior Quality Assurance Manager Jessica Quetsch and Director of Operations Anthony Miller in its fraud claims which allege they intentionally doctored and omitted material information from a food safety consultant’s report, and then delivered that doctored report to Don Lee Farms and affirmatively represented that it was the complete opinion of the consultant. The omitted portions discussed significant food safety issues at Beyond Meat’s facility.
The next day, Beyond Meat announced it hired new lawyers.
Donald Goodman, President, Don Lee Farms, said, "We are very proud of our family's history as a leader in the food industry going back to the 1940s. In our opinion, the facts are clearly on our side. Our claims have been shown to several judges and each one has ruled in our favor. We are pleased with where we are today but it is just the beginning. We will prove our claim that Beyond Meat misappropriated our trade secrets to manufacture the Beyond Burger and other products. We will prove the breach of the Exclusive Supply Agreement and fraud claim committed by Mr. Nelson and others.”
Previously, Beyond Meat lost motions to maintain confidentiality designations on their entire document production, trying to designate 147,000 documents confidential or highly confidential in order to try to keep its documents away from the public.
Beyond Meat has also delayed producing documents regarding their co-packer, FPL Foods, by filing a motion for protective order in Georgia. The Court ruled in Don Lee Farms favor.
About the Beyond Meat and Don Lee Farms Relationship:
Whole Foods Market, a customer of Don Lee Farms’ plant-based and meat proteins since 2012, introduced startup Beyond Meat to Don Lee Farms in 2014 to help Beyond Meat make meat alternatives. Beyond Meat entered into an exclusive supply agreement with Don Lee Farms to produce all of their products (including the development and launch of the Beyond Burger). The Beyond Burger was solely manufactured by Don Lee Farms under the exclusive supply agreement in 2016. After the success of the new burger, the startup walked away from the agreement in 2017 and transferred production and processes developed by Don Lee Farms under the agreement to other food manufacturers.
The Beyond Burger, Beyond Meat’s flagship product, is around 70% of their total sales according to the startup.
Beyond Meat is currently being sued by Don Lee Farms for fraud, negligence and breach of contract. During the agreement, Don Lee Farms shared trade secrets, know-how and technology the family food company developed over 35 years.
During the partnership, Don Lee Farms raised significant concerns regarding inadequate food safety protocols for raw materials produced at Beyond Meat’s facility, after receiving adulterated product to be used to make consumer items for Beyond Meat.
About Don Lee Farms:
Established in California in 1982, Don Lee Farms is a family-owned producer of fresh and frozen foods for some of the world's most recognized and successful brands. Don Lee Farms makes plant-based and meat proteins for over 10,000 markets, clubs, foodservice and school foodservice locations in over 15 countries. Consumer products and end items are sold at major retailers nationwide such as Costco Wholesale, Whole Foods Markets, Trader Joes, Kroger, Publix, HEB and Albertsons Companies under the Don Lee Farms label, private brands and under brands of their partners. For more information, visit www.DonLeeFarms.com or follow Don Lee Farms on Facebook and Twitter, @DonLeeFarms.