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Fortitech outlines grounds for lawsuit

Fortitech outlines grounds for lawsuit

A Schenectady company that makes custom nutrient premixes is suing Green Mountain Coffee Roasters fo
Fortitech outlines grounds for lawsuit
Fortitech Strategic Nutrition at 2105 Riverside Technology Park Drive in Schenectady is pictured on Thursday.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber

A Schenectady company that makes custom nutrient premixes is suing Green Mountain Coffee Roasters for nearly $1.77 million, alleging breach of contract, according to a summons filed this week in Schenectady County Supreme Court.

Fortitech maintains a growing premix business in Schenectady’s Tech Drive Business Park, where it manufactures custom-blended vitamins, minerals, amino acids and other ingredients that can be added to food and drinks such as energy bars and sports drinks.

The company says it supplied Green Mountain with custom-blended nutrition premixes for its coffee and K-cups from June 2010 through January 2013, and as part of this agreement was required to maintain a certain level of premix inventory to meet Green Mountain’s needs.

At some point last year, Fortitech alleges, Green Mountain kept up appearances that it was going to continue buying the inventory but then never did, leaving Fortitech holding more than 405,000 pounds of custom premix inventory valued at nearly $1.77 million.

“At this time, we would prefer not to make a statement, as it is company policy not to comment on pending litigation,” Hugh C. Welsh, president of Fortitech parent company DSM North America, said in a statement.

A call to Green Mountain’s corporate communications office was not returned Thursday.

Green Mountain, which has headquarters in Waterbury, Vt., is considered the leader in specialty coffee products, especially since it acquired the Keurig single cup brewing technology in 2006.

An ingredient list of premix inventory supplied in the court summons seems to indicate Fortitech was supplying a custom premix for Green Mountain’s hot apple cider K-cups. That list includes apple flake powder, evaporated cane juice, natural apple cider flavor, L-malic acid, and natural cinnamon flavor, among other ingredients.

In the summons, Fortitech alleges it had 405,822 pounds of these ingredients in its premix inventory for Green Mountain as of Sept. 20.

“Fortitech maintained the premix inventory in reliance upon Green Mountain’s representations and prior course of conduct that it would purchase the premix inventory from Fortitech,” the summons said. “Green Mountain never intended to purchase the premix inventory, and made representations with the intention of inducing Fortitech to maintain the premix inventory.”

Green Mountain knew that Fortitech would maintain the inventory for it, the complaint alleges, but then never purchased it. The coffee company has since refused to pay the $1.77 million sum, the complaint says.

“Fortitech sustained damages as a result. Green Mountain is liable to Fortitech for those damages,” the lawsuit says.

Fortitech is seeking the $1.77 million in damages, plus any interest, service charges, costs and attorney fees incurred from the litigation.

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