PepsiCo Withdraws Lawsuits Against Gujarat Potato Farmers

After suing four farmers for cultivating the FC5 potato variety, grown exclusively for PepsiCo's popular Lay's potato chips, the snack food and drinks maker said last week it wanted to "amicably settle" the issue.

PepsiCo Withdraws Lawsuits Against Gujarat Potato Farmers

The FC5 potato variety is grown exclusively for PepsiCo's popular Lay's potato chips. (Reuters)

New Delhi:

PepsiCo Inc said today it will withdraw its lawsuits against a number of potato farmers accused of infringing its patent.

After suing four farmers for cultivating the FC5 potato variety, grown exclusively for PepsiCo's popular Lay's potato chips, the snack food and drinks maker said last week it wanted to "amicably settle" the issue.

Other than filing the lawsuit against the four farmers in April, PepsiCo had also sued five other potato growers.

"After discussions with the government, the company has agreed to withdraw the cases against the farmers," a PepsiCo India spokesman said, adding that it applied to all nine of them.

PepsiCo maintains that it developed the FC5 variety, which has a lower moisture content required to make snacks such as potato chips, and registered the trait in 2016.

In April, the company filed the lawsuit in a court in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, requesting the court to restrain the four farmers from growing the FC5 variety. The company had also sought more than Rs 10 million ($142,840) each from the farmers.

The state government of Gujarat had assured the farmers that it would help them, Nitin Patel, deputy chief minister said last month.

The opposition Congress party had also criticised PepsiCo.

PepsiCo, which set up its first potato chips plant in India in 1989, supplies the FC5 potato variety to a group of farmers who in turn sell their produce to the company at a fixed price.

"The company remains deeply committed to the thousands of farmers we work with across the country and towards ensuring adoption of best farming practices," said the spokesman.