Letters from Harmless Harvest CEO
Dear Harmless Harvest Community,
I hope your 2017 is off to a wonderful start.
As you probably have seen in media reports, Harmless Harvest recently announced the settlement of a class action lawsuit filed by a New York City law firm. The lawsuit against our company accused us of improperly labeling our Harmless Harvest coconut water products as organic and raw.
We, at Harmless Harvest, vigorously deny any wrongdoing and liability, and we believe this lawsuit is without merit but we agreed to settle this lawsuit only to end costly and protracted litigation.
Like so many other food, beverage and consumer product companies facing distracting and unwarranted lawsuits today, we reached a settlement with the plaintiffs’ law firm with the best interests of our consumers, employees and suppliers in mind. If we had unlimited time and financial resources, we would have fought this case to the end in court, confident that we would prevail because our products are organic, safe and wholesome.
Here are the key related facts you need to know:
· All products we make at Harmless Harvest are USDA Certified Organic. Our products are certified organic by Bioagricert, a highly respected independent certification and control body based in Europe.
· Harmless Harvest organic certifications are available online at http://www.trasparente-check.com/CertConfNOP.asp?cf=62175 and demonstrate that Harmless Harvest complies with the standards of both the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Bioagricert.
· Our company complies with the standards of both the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Bioagricert. Bioagricert is a respected independent certification and control body and is accredited by the 1990 U.S. Organic Food Productions Act (OFPA) to carry out such authorizations.
· We do not thermally pasteurize our coconut water. The FDA provides no clear definition for “raw” therefore, we voluntarily removed the word “raw” from our label back in June 2015, and way before this lawsuit.
· We are following up with all news media to correct any misinformation about the settlement they may have published. We will continue to set the record straight and defend of company, brand and our organic, Fair for Life, wholesome products.
With this lawsuit behind us, we can get back to our commitment to producing the finest organic products and taking care of our Fair for Life community, upholding the highest standards that we at Harmless Harvest strive to meet every day.
Thank you for continuing to support our company and our extended family of farmers oversees in Thailand. We look forward to continuing to bring you the finest and freshest tasting organic coconut products, including some very exciting innovation in the not-so-distant future.
CEO Harmless Harvest
Dear Harmless Harvest community,
A lot has happened since I last wrote to you at the end of 2015. In fact, saying a “lot” is an understatement as our company has undergone a revival during these past few months, and we are stronger and healthier than ever before. Let me explain.
Last year, the FDA issued us a Warning Letter asking us to revamp our quality and food safety approach for the processing of our coconut water, a low acid beverage. Our company is committed to food safety and to delivering the best tasting coconut water in the market, the one that tastes most as if the coconut had just been cracked open.
Therefore, heat pasteurization just wasn’t an option for us. Heat pasteurization destroys the nutrients and flavors found in the raw product. We were convinced we could develop another way to deliver the same great taste as before and with a new added level of quality and safety. Well, the Harmless Harvest team surpassed all expectations designing, developing and building a new-to-the-world and proprietary microfiltration process, validating it and scaling it for full production, and complying with FDA requirements in just three months!
Not only that, but also in keeping with the Harmless Harvest commitment to the environment, our new microfiltration process has allowed us to reduce the amount of plastic used in our bottles by an average of 24%. I am excited to tell you that this new product is hitting the shelves today and can be easily identified by the new shape and lighter bottles.
As if developing a new process, packaging and securing approval were not enough to keep a normal company busy, we have also been hard at work continuing to expand our Fair for Life activities, certifying additional sustainable organic farms and helping lead the industry in improving farmer working conditions, as well as providing consumers with more great tasting, plant-based nutritious products.
Thank you for supporting us, supporting our extended family of farmers in Thailand, and for allowing us to grow. In the not too distant future I expect to bring you even more great products to complement our current line.
CEO Harmless Harvest
Dear Harmless Harvest community,
It’s been three months for me as CEO of Harmless Harvest. Now is a good time for drawing a first set of conclusions, and shaping our ambitions for the coming years.
First of all, I’m as excited as ever to embrace the pioneering spirit and values of Harmless Harvest and our aspiration of becoming a major global brand at the forefront of the organic, fair trade and Fair for Life movements. We aim to lead with best in class social, environmental and quality standards, while staying true to our commitment to constructive capitalism and respecting our planet.
I wanted to take the opportunity as we close out 2015 to give you some insight on our current and future developments in people, products, operations and regulatory compliance and establish a framework for what Harmless Harvest needs to deliver in 2016.
Harmless Harvest will enter 2016 with a substantially strengthened business in terms of organization, financial health and operational capacity. This is in large part due to our company’s founders, Justin and Douglas, who in 2015 made the commitment to invest in a highly experienced management team, bringing myself, Brad Paris as COO, and Benedicte Bayi as General Counsel, to help lead the company through the next stage of growth. I have further built on this team with the recruitment of Blair Cornish as our new Chief Commercial Officer and we are in the process of recruiting a top notch CFO to the management roster.
We have also strengthened the financial base by raising a significant round of capital from the existing shareholders, and securing a commercial banking partnership with Wells Fargo to provide the working capital to fuel our growth, a vote of confidence that validates the growth potential of our business.
Harmless Harvest is further upgrading its processing and packaging systems to ensure that the company continues to meet its commitment for achieving the highest standards of quality and safety. We are partnering and collaborating with FDA regulators, other oversight agencies, and expert consultants on these upgrades and expansion plans. We have chosen to do this now during the slow Winter season and expect to be back up and running for the busy Summer months.
We are making a major investment to expand production capacity to meet the growing consumer demand. We are adding a new plant in Thailand and continuing to qualify 3rd party manufacturers in the USA and abroad. We also are preparing for the introduction of new product lines that will complement the beverage category with new environmentally friendly products.
Harmless Harvest stands out among coconut waters with our organic, natural, zero additives product. We are committed to delivering coconut water in a way
that preserves the fresh taste as extracted from the coconut. We achieve this organoleptic experience through a combination of proprietary processes and HPP. Our Harmless Harvest organic coconut water must be refrigerated, just like milk or other fresh squeezed juices, as it is not thermally pasteurized.
We have recently received a letter from the FDA requesting we comply with additional quality criteria to ensure consumers receive an added layer of product quality and safety from delivery into their hands. We are highly confident that our process produces a safe refrigerated product, and that the process enhancements we are making will continue to meet or exceed the FDA standards for our industry.
It is our privilege and responsibility to partner with all relevant agencies in providing compliant manufacturing and contributing to leading innovative and safe manufacturing technologies for a dynamic and shifting food industry.
Harmless Harvest organic coconut water products remain safe and nutritious and consumers can continue to enjoy them with confidence.
In conclusion, we have the passion, the commitment and resources to become a best-in-class company and are eager to grow our business consistent with our values. During the infrastructure upgrade and expansion, the company will continue to partner with its farms in Thailand who harvest coconuts and will honor its Fair for Life commitment to all growers, employees and communities.
Of course, we have lots to do to reach our goals and know we will encounter challenges, yet we expect to have many more achievements to celebrate. We are dedicated to transparency and will continue to provide regular updates like this one to all of our stakeholders, from farmer to customer.
Wishing everyone a Harmless and happy holiday season, and a wonderful 2016.
CEO Harmless Harvest