The Ferrara Candy Co. is suing American Licorice for $1.8 million after it says the company sent Ferrara insect-infected Red Vines.
In the lawsuit, filed Aug. 31 in federal court, Ferrara alleges that American Licorice supplied Ferrara with several batches of Red Vines candy infested with rice weevils.
Ferrara was planning to use the Red Vines in its Kiddie Mix product, which features Ferrara candies like Lemonhead and Trolli as well as branded candies that Ferrara purchases from other manufacturers, such as the Red Vines.
In the court filing, the candy company says it has incurred, and will continue to incur significant damages, approaching $1.8 million.
Specifically, the candymaker is looking for damages it suffered as the result of:
● The alleged contaminated candy that American Licorice sold to Ferrara.
● Defective packaging of that product, which caused the alleged contamination.
And the $1.8 million covers product and product-related costs; costs for retailers to pull the product; lost profits; labor costs; trailer storage rental costs for preservation of the product; laboratory testing and expert expenses; disposing of the product; and Ferrara’s attorney fees.
In the lawsuit, Ferrara says it purchased the Red Vines in 2014 and early 2015 for the Kiddie Mix, which are packaged at a Bolingbrook, Ill. facility.
But the Red Vines that Ferrara received from American Licorice were invested with rice weevils, which are insects that feed on grains such as the wheat in Red Vines. The insects then infected bags of the Kiddie Mix.
Specifically, Ferrara claims that American Licorice’s Red Vines packaging had openings in it that attracted the insects to the grain-based smell coming from the packaging.
And, it says that after discovering the insects, Ferrara had to stop making the Kiddie Mix, quarantine its inventory of Kiddie Mix and Red Vines, and ultimately had to throw away the unused Red Vines. The company also had to recall the Kiddie Mix that had already been sent out to consumers.
The insects were allegedly discovered on March 16, 2015 by a packer at the Bolingbrook facility, who saw the rice weevils on the metal plate underneath an infeed conveyor belt being used to package Kiddie Mix bags.
Ferrara immediately stopped packaging Kiddie Mix and the next day they investigated the situation, eventually concluding that American Licorice was the original source of the infestation.
That’s partly because, of all the candies in the bags, only packets of Kiddie Mix featuring Red Vines were infected, Ferrara says.
When Ferrara called American Licorice to ask about the issue, a representative allegedly said that the infestation likely came during transport, and that American Licorice had no responsibility for the contaminated product it sold to Ferrara.
However, Ferrara argues that its terms dictate that American Licorice is responsible for “all risk of loss during shipment” for the Red Vines sold to Ferrara.
Ferrara is specifically worried that the infestation was jeopardizing Ferrara’s brand and its relationship with retail customers and consumers.
Ferrara, which is based in Oak Brook Terrace, Ill. and is known for brands like Brach’s, Black Forest, Trolli, Lemonhead, and Red Hots, declined to comment on the lawsuit.
American Licorice, which is based in LaPorte, Ind. and known for its Red Vines red licorice, did not return a request for comment.