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Suit claims Meadow Gold is falsely marketing its mainland milk as a local product

Published: Nov. 26, 2021 at 4:26 PM HST|Updated: Nov. 26, 2021 at 11:13 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Hawaii food supplier has filed a federal lawsuit against Meadow Gold and its partner dairies, saying they are falsely marketing their mainland milk as a local product.

Chad Buck, the head of the Hawaii Foodservice Alliance, says Meadow Gold’s milk is imported to Hawaii from California.

But he says the company’s advertising and labels are deceptive, making consumers believe they’re supporting local.

“Which one would I buy to support local? You’d probably pick the one ... that says ‘Hawaii’s Dairy.’ You’d probably pick the one ... that says made with aloha,” Buck said.

He added that Meadow Gold is pricier than its competitors in Hawaii.

Over the last two decades, Buck says he’s watched about a dozen local dairies go out of business because they couldn’t compete with mainland operations and prices.

In April 2020, then Texas-based Dean Foods filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and sold the nostalgic Meadow Gold brand to a Big Island dairy farmer.

The company currently has a processing plant in Hilo and a new facility in Waipahu, but Buck says all their milk comes from out of state.

“It’s not right for the state. It’s not right for dairy farmers in this state,” Buck said.

“And if we’re ever going to build a sustainable Hawaii again, we cannot let mainland agriculture bring their products into Hawaii and pretend that they’re local.”

In response to the suit, Meadow Gold said it has “never claimed that all our milk is local.”

Here is Meadow Gold Dairies’ full statement:

“Former Big Island dairy farmer, Bahman Sadeghi assumed operations of Meadow Gold Dairies in May 2020 to manage and keep the legacy of the Meadow Gold brand alive and has been diligently working to make the operation more sustainable. As Hawaii’s sole milk processor, we process 100% of the milk produced in Hawaii and 100% of the milk processed in Hawaii to fulfill the demand for Hawaii’s residents that could not possibly be fulfilled with the current available local dairy farmers.

“We have never claimed that all our milk is local, but we do consider ourselves Hawaii’s Dairy because we are committed to Hawaii and its community and will continue to be while we work toward building a more sustainable operation.

“Furthermore, everything we do is with aloha! This is part of our company culture, and we are grateful to the past and present local dairy farmers who have reached out to express their support for us as we work together to build a more sustainable local food system in Hawaii.

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