Camarillo Jalapeño Farmer Wins $23.3M in Heated Dispute With Sriracha Maker

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Craig Underwood of Underwood Ranches tosses jalapeño peppers into the air in a Ventura County field where they are grown. (Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Craig Underwood of Underwood Ranches tosses jalapeño peppers into the air in a Ventura County field where they are grown. (Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

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After the collapse of a nearly 30-year partnership with the maker of the world-famous Sriracha sauce and a multimillion-dollar lawsuit with the company, Craig Underwood is still betting on his farm’s peppers.

A jury recently awarded $23.3 million to Underwood Ranches after a bitter lawsuit with Huy Fong Foods Inc., the manufacturer of the wildly popular Sriracha in the signature green-capped bottle. The family-owned Underwood farm was once the exclusive supplier of the chili peppers at the core of Huy Fong’s rooster-labeled sauces.

The trial, which began in early June, came to a close last week when a civil jury determined that Irwindale-based Huy Fong breached its contract with the chili grower and committed fraud by intentionally misrepresenting and concealing information.

“It certainly isn’t our nature to give up. We felt we had been wronged, so we were hoping we could right that through the court,” said Underwood, who manages the Camarillo farm. “When the verdict came down, there was a lot of celebrating. We celebrated at lunch. We celebrated at dinner. And then we celebrated the next day.”

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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