Press Clips: $52M Settlement Reached In Dairy Antitrust Suit; Aerosol Tea Debuts in U.K.


Settlement Reached In Dairy Cooperatives Suit

Bloomberg reports that a $52 million settlement was reached this week in a nationwide class-action antitrust suit alleging that a dairy cooperative paid farmers to prematurely kill their own cows in an attempt to artificially prop up dairy prices.

The suit, filed on behalf of American consumers, claims that from 2003 to 2010, a “herd retirement program,” led by Cooperatives Working Together and administered by the National Milk Producers Federation, paid above-market prices for dairy cows before sending them to slaughter earlier than usual. By decreasing the supply of cows, the cooperatives allegedly hoped to propel an increase in the prices for of dairy products, which had been in decline because of overproduction of milk.

The program seemed to have a positive short-term effect on farmers; according to an analysis conducted by the University of Missouri-Columbia cited in the story, cooperative groups saw a $0.66 increase per hundredweight of milk that from 2004 to 2008. However, Gary Grenske, treasurer of the National Dairy Producers Organization and a New Mexico farmer, told Bloomberg that the scheme was a “short-term band-aid on a hemorrhage caused by lack of adequate marking by our cooperatives.”

The defendants did not admit or deny any wrongdoing as part of the settlement.


Behind Fruitbelt Sparkling Water Tonic

A story in the Harbor Country News of New Buffalo, Mich. chronicles the origins of Fruitbelt Sparkling Water Tonic, a soda that emphasizes the use of fruit juice from local orchards in Southwest Michigan.

The company, co-founded by partners Michele Gazzolo and Beth Denton in February, began as a crowdsourced-funded venture aimed at creating an all-natural soda that would reflect the region’s agricultural tradition of growing apples, pears, cherries and other fruits.

Denton developed the recipe, which contains 25 percent fruit juice, using organic honey and monk fruit juice concentrate as sweeteners, then adding bitters made from local ingredients such as heirloom apples, chicory, dandelion roots, arena and propolis from bees.

Fruitbelt comes in two flavors, Crisp Apple and Bright Cherry. Each contains 14 grams of sugar and 60 calories per 8.5 oz. single-serving glass bottle, which is cold-sterilized to preserve flavor. Fruitbelt is currently available in over 100 outlets in Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin, with further expansion planned in the Midwest.


Aerosol Tea Debuts in The U.K.

Aiming for a combination of quality and convenience, London-based tea brand YumCha has high hopes for their latest product: an aerosol-based tea, according to the Metro UK.

The spray, No More Tea Bags, is available in black, Jasmine and Earl Grey varieties. It works when users combine a squirt of liquid tea foam from the 200 mL bottle with hot water. The result, according to Woodall, is a superior tasting cup of tea, easily adjustable to individual taste and minus the hassle of tossing the soaked tea bags.


Greek Mountain Tea Emerges In Bottled Version

A feature on Munchies, VICE’s food website, follows the efforts of TuVunu, a Greek beverage company that produces an all-natural bottled version of a regional hot infusion made with sideritis, also known as Greek mountain tea, a drink regarded for its health properties.

The company sources its crop from small farmers in Thrace, who develop the plant to maturity without the use of pesticides. Resistant to cold and heat, sideritis requires minimal care and no watering.

Upon receiving the crop, the factory replicates the traditional method of preparation on a large scale by using an air compressor to push the dehydrated branches through a closed-circuit tube system into a 17,000 Lliter tank containing warm water. Locally sourced lemon juice and honey, along with raw brown sugar, is added to the tank. The liquid is blended, extracted and bottled.

The author of the article, Nick Tsirabidis, notes TuVunu’s approach has been beneficial to both the company and their certified growers; while the company has control over soil conditions and fields, allowing them to certify the product as organic, local farmers now have a valuable alternative to growing tobacco.