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Amish Pet Food Company Sales Shut Down By Judicial Order

There’s a dispute ongoing between two raw pet food companies with ties to one another. Answers is the name of the established company; Amish farmers in PA have supplied it with raw materials for its foods for years. Kure is the upstart brand founded by some of those same Amish suppliers last year.

Apparently two sisters who worked for Answers left the company and began advising the Amish owners of Kure. Now an injunction has been granted to Answers preventing Kure from selling its products; inventory of $1 million is sitting in cold storage. Jason Nark at the Philadelphia Inquirer reports:

Hill said approximately 30 Amish farmers have supplied and packaged products for Answers for years and some became nervous about the sisters’ departure from the company. Five of them decided to form their own business, Initial LLC, which would sell raw pet food as Kure. Hill and Stone formed a pet-food consulting business, Trinity Clean Foods, which advised Kure.

According to court records, Kure began selling pet food in September and sold $80,000 worth of products in three months.

Keith Hill could not be reached for comment, but Allan Sodomsky, a Reading lawyer representing Answers, said Jacqueline Hill and Stone left the company with the intention of starting their own business, one that would sell “the exact same product with the exact same formulas, suppliers, and distributors.”

Answers responded to Hill and Stone’s lawsuit by filing its own, seeking an injunction that would forbid Kure from selling its products and forbid the sisters from consulting for it.

Several longtime Answers employees resigned after Hill and Stone’s departure. According to court records, Answers believed that many of those former employees were disparaging the company on social media and directly to retailers while trying to obtain new deals for Kure.

“They took, basically, the core of our company,” Sodomsky said.

The Amish farmers claimed that they had never had an official contract with Answers and weren’t aware of signing anything that would preclude them from getting into raw pet foods themselves. They also argued that there’s no trade secret for fermented raw products.

Making things more complicated, some Amish farmers are still selling products to Answers, though that is only for a 90-day period at present.

It sounds like Answers felt their business was threatened by their suppliers starting their own company along with help from two principal people, the sisters. I can understand that. And apparently some of the Amish producers did in fact have written agreements with Answers, though they were expired.

I guess the question here is whether there are any clear legal mechanisms that would prevent the sisters from consulting (non-compete agreement?) competitors or the Amish producers from using know-how gained from their relationship with Answers to their own benefit in starting a new company.

There’s more to the story of course so check it out at the link above. I’ll just add that this is the first Amish-owned pet food company I’ve heard of. And apparently raw pet food is becoming a big thing, which makes sense. People want the best for their pets and raw food has its proponents for alleged health benefits among humans, so why not for animals as well.

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    11 Comments

    1. Food

      Just curious what is in the pet food the Amish sell. Anybody ever/buy or use it? Share the what is in the dog food please. Healthy for our pets?

      1. Jordan

        look up kurepetfood.com

        to answer your question, look up kurepetfood.com. It will show you all the products they’re producing

    2. Helen Holmes

      One mistake the newcomers may have made.

      This does involve the State laws that govern the new company headed up by the sisters.

      With sales like those they made early on are real, the question is did the sisters take the names and addresses of the first company’s customers. Depending on the law, that may affect both companies’ futures.

      1. Jordan

        the business came running to them

        The women are two of the most well known and respected people in the pet industry. Keith Hill is not respected like they are. It seems as though the business came running to the women, because so many people in the industry respect them. Keith wanted to ruin that as much as he can, and he claims everything is stolen. First off Keith, the information you’re claiming is stolen seems to be PUBLICLY AVAILABLE online. The “customers” aka distributors…their info is online. No one needs to steal anything from Keith to “harm” him. He’s harming himself quite fine all on his own. It’s amazing to watch his downfall.

    3. Ellen Rowe

      Answers Pet Food

      Answers was started by the sisters. They developed the fermentation process and recipes used. It is amazingly healthy for our pets, and produced to human safety rules. I have used their products.
      A good friend uses them regularly, and has spoken to the sisters on more than one occasion.
      Jacqueline and Roxanne are good people. I wish them, and their Amish suppliers well.
      Ellen Rowe
      PS. I wrote this just after delivering an Amish couple to their midwife!!

      1. Jordan

        amen!

        Amen! These women, and these farmers, are INCREDIBLE! THANK YOU ALL for all your hard work and HELP over the years. You will be back and BETTER THAN EVER! I am not purchasing answers pet food mainly due to this Keith Hill guy being completely inappropriate. I do not want food from dishonest people like him! STAY STRONG!

    4. Kohl Harrington

      Integrity Of The Farmers & The Sisters

      The honesty and integrity of the independent farmers and the sisters, and the quality of the food they produce, is pretty unmatched in the pet food industry. These are people the pet food industry need, and the independent farmers and the sisters are a match made in heaven. I went to the trial to view testimony in person, and the answers pet food company TANKED with Keith Hill at the helm, after the sisters left. I’ve heard sales are STILL tanking. I believe the sisters and the independent farmers attempted to fix various things for about a year prior to stepping away, and there’s some potentially very serious hostile work environment things at play here.
      Keith’s lawyer falsely claim all these formulas were stolen. His lawyer is a LIAR! The truth here is Keith doesn’t want any competition, because most consumers do not want products from him!
      I’ve spoken to Keith and known him over the years, and it makes ZERO sense that he would try to run what essentially was Roxanne and Jacqueline’s company without them. And why wouldn’t Keith do everything in his power as CEO to honor and respect the talent that WAS the company? From what I saw at trial, it seemed as though his serious incompetence as a CEO really harmed the company…and he then appeared to blame all of his problems on Jacqueline and Roxanne when they finally had enough and stepped away. How bad do things have to get for someone to step away from their own company, with the alternative of making $0? Yikes!
      This case has exposed the internal ethics of a company, and how consumers seem to no longer be comfortable due to Keith Hill seeming to have questionable ethics. I am beyond sad to see how Keith Hill has treated the farmers, and the women, and I will not stay silent given how pathetic and psychotic his actions have been towards these honorable and talented people.

    5. Donna Duty

      I Stand With Kure

      I just want to remind the world how much support is behind Jacqueline and Roxanne. I am grateful for all that you have provided, and I can’t wait until your Kefir is on the market again!

    6. Harry

      These women and farmers are incredible

      Keep the faith! Evil will not win in the end!

    7. Donavan

      Brilliant Women!

      Put Keith Hill on a stage. Put Roxanne on the same stage. Let us have a panel. Keith would never do it because his so much of his stupidity would probably be exposed… I rest my case!

    8. Kefir Grain

      Retailers Have Been Harassed And Given Misinfo By Keith

      Article doesn’t mention that Keith Hill wrote various letters to retailers last year. He provided misinformation in his letters, and his lawyer threatened innocent retailers in another letter. And even still, his company profits declined. He refuses to recognize actions like this have consequences. I do not appreciate him, and good riddance to everyone who has gotten as far away from him as possible!