Farmhand Foods, the small wholesale distributor of local, pasture-raised meats, has changed its name to Firsthand Foods.
When the Durham company filed its trademark application in 2011, it received a “cease and desist” letter from S.F. Investments, Inc, a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods. Farmhand Foods’s co-founder Jennifer Curtis said Smithfield claimed that her company’s trademark was too similar to Smithfield’s brand, Farmland Foods.
While Smithfield-brand pork products can be found in Triangle grocery stores, its Farmland line of pork products are not typically sold within 200 miles of Raleigh. (I have seen them in Missouri and Iowa.) Federal officials had given initial approval for Farmhand Foods to use its name and trademark but Curtis said Smithfield Foods still planned to sue over it. Curtis said her small company couldn’t afford the $60,000 to $100,000 in legal fees it would have cost to fight it.
Curtis’ co-founder, Tina Prevatte, said in a press release: “After a year of trying to protect the rights to use our name, we decided to embrace Firsthand Foods as our new name and focus on growing our markets, supporting the farmers in our network, and continuing to help build a robust local food system here in North Carolina.”
So what does Smithfield have to say about the dispute? Keira Lombardo, Smithfield’s vice president of investor relations and corporate communications wrote in an email: “There was a trademark dispute between Farmhand Foods and SF Investments, which was amicably resolved under a confidential settlement agreement and which involved Farmhand transitioning to a new name.”
As of May 1, Farmhand Foods is now Firsthand Foods. Their products are available at Weaver Street Markets, Chatham Marketplace, LoMo mobile market, The Raleigh Wine Shop and the MAE Farm Meats stand at the State Farmers’ Market in Raleigh. You may be more familiar from their products via their food truck, the Sausage Wagon.