Seward Co-op dumps some products made by anti-birth control Eden Foods, cites poor sales

Co-ops and groceries might not be boycotting Eden, but at Seward, a critical mass of customers are.
As local co-ops and groceries take heat for not dumping products made by Eden Foods, a Catholic-owned company under fire for refusing to provide birth control to its employees on the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby ruling, the response from places like Mississippi Market and the Seward Co-op has been largely the same -- they won't boycott, but urge customers to vote with their dollars.

Some are apparently doing just that at the Seward Co-op, and in response, management announced earlier this week that they've already stopped selling some Eden products.

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In the week after SCOTUS announced its Hobby Lobby ruling on June 30, sales of Eden products dropped 12 percent, Seward officials say on a post on the co-op's website. For the first four weeks of July as a whole compared to last year, sales of Eden products were down 15 percent.

"We've told customers through our comment system and via social media... [that] if Eden Foods products stop selling well, we'll stop buying them," Seward's web post says. "We tracked product movement in July, and Eden Foods sales have indeed slowed down... Several Eden Foods' products whose sales have slowed considerably have been discontinued altogether."

In addition to dropping some Eden products, Sean Doyle, GM of Seward Co-op, wrote Eden Foods President Michael Potter a letter urging him to "drop your lawsuit against Health and Human Services, and fund insurance coverage for contraception for all of your employees." (Read the full text on page two of this post.)

In related news, the Wedge Co-op recently published a statement outlining its position on the Eden Foods controversy. Like Seward and the Mississippi Market, the Wedge doesn't have a "boycott policy" and focuses on "issues surrounding food, farming, and the health of the soil" rather than health insurance.

"Co-ops are not the economic arm of progressive politics," the statement says. "We do not fire weapons in the culture war and do not have a contraception position or an insurance coverage position."

"There are shoppers who prefer Eden products because of the company's 40+ year track record on organic integrity, domestic sourcing and BPA-free packaging," it continues. "There are shoppers who just prefer the way those products taste. That is their choice. We are not in the habit of letting some owners decide what products other owners may purchase at their own co-op, other than that the products have to sell enough to earn their shelf space."

That said, the Wedge vows to track Eden sales, and to remove the company's products from its shelves if sales drop as they apparently have down Franklin Ave. at the Seward Co-op.

To read the full text of the letter the Seward Co-op's Doyle wrote to Potter, click to page two.

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