Things have turned sour for two pickle brands as one company’s coveted family recipe was allegedly used to create a copycat line for Amazon-owned Whole Foods.
Grillo’s Pickles, a Boston-based pickle company that boasts a century-old family recipe at the forefront of its brand, has filed a lawsuit against Patriot Pickle, accusing the Florida-based company of violating its agreement and using Grillo’s recipes to create a “nearly identical” line for Whole Foods under the Whole Foods 365 label.
The lawsuit claims that Patriot Pickle had access to Grillo’s recipes and equipment, used identical ingredients, and conducted organic acid profile tests — all of which the Boston-based brand says violated contracts between Grillo’s and Patriot as well as the Defend Trade Secrets Act and the Florida Uniform Trade Secrets Act.
Patriot has until July 18 to respond to the complaint, which was filed on June 27.
The pickle partnership began in 2012 — Patriot handled the manufacturing, packaging, labeling, and shipping of Grillo’s pickles, which, per the lawsuit, is where the company allegedly learned of and later stole the secret recipe used in the Whole Foods line. The union between the brands was terminated in 2021 by Grillo’s, the complaint notes, but Grillo’s claims Patriot did not return all of its copies of the recipes.
Grillo’s president, Adam Kaufman, expressed disappointment and accused Patriot Pickle of betraying their decade-long partnership.
“Patriot Pickle is trying to profit off of Grillo’s 100-year-old family recipe and our trade secrets,” Kaufman said in a statement. “It’s a massive violation of trust and a disappointment that after nearly a decade of partnership, our former co-packer, Patriot Pickle, has violated our agreements and is producing a nearly identical line of pickles for one of our biggest retailers, threatening to permanently damage our business.”
Grillo’s is seeking emergency injunctive relief, a permanent injunction, and damages, as it believes Patriot Pickle’s actions threaten to “cripple” its business and customer base “irreparably.”
This is the second lawsuit filed by Grillo’s against Patriot this year.
In January, Grillo’s sued Patriot Pickle, Wahlburgers, and ARKK Food Company for allegedly falsely labeling and marketing Wahlburgers pickles as “fresh” and “all natural” when they contained artificial preservatives.
Patriot Pickle told Entrepreneur it has no comment on the current situation.