Rush to market new apple is anything but sweetApple growers this year argued it takes more than two to SweeTango.
By: Mike Longaecker, The Republican Eagle
Apple growers this year argued it takes more than two to SweeTango.
A deal between Pepin Heights Orchard and the University of Minnesota to produce and market a coveted apple was the target of a lawsuit filed by 26 growers who claimed the exclusive arrangement kept them from cashing in on the new apple.
The defendants filed a Dec. 7 motion seeking dismissal of the case. The matter was taken under advisement by a Hennepin County judge who has yet to rule on the motion, said Preston Smith, a university public relations representative.
At the core of the suit is the SweeTango apple, a product that was touted to become the premiere apple variety with expectations that its popularity would outpace even the Honeycrisp brand.
Under the agreement, Pepin Heights is the primary marketing and production creature for the SweeTango. The deal allows other growers to produce the SweeTango, but they are prohibited from selling to wholesalers or pooling production to wholesale the apple.
"The only manner by which (the growers) can sustain their business is by selling SweeTango to large wholesalers or retailers," the civil complaint states.
The growers are seeking an end to the exclusive SweeTango agreement and from being excluded from any future apple deals forged through the university. The suit also seeks monetary damages of at least $50,000.
The case, filed in June, is set for a November 2011 jury trial, according to online Minnesota court records.
Smith said the university had no comment on the case. A message left for Pepin Heights owner Dennis Courtier was not returned.