Pet food poisoning shows brands need to be genuine

SimonGeneral4 Comments

Readers outside the United States may not be aware of the growing pet food poisoning scare that’s been happening in America and Canada.

To cut a long story short it appears that rat poison has been found in some pet foods coming from a single source: Menu Foods in Canada.

The affected dog and cat foods include major brand names such as Iams, Nutro and Eukanuba, as well as own-label products in US retailers like Walmart and Safeway.

To give an idea of the scope of this recall: the Petconnection website is reporting 48 dog food brands and 40 cat food brands are affected – more than 60 million containers in all. The latest update on deceased pets on the same site shows that 2,300 pets are reported as having died from consuming the affected food.

The interesting thing here is that the whole sorry saga has ripped away much of the brand equity of the big brands involved.

Many of the brands involved will have spent large sums of money creating a brand – a persona for their product that differentiates it from its competitors.

But the revelation that all these brands come from a single source will make customers question how differentiated the products truly are. It’s quite likely that all the brands have different formulations, but I suspect this detail will be lost on the majority of consumers.

The lesson for brand owners is that while companies can create brand images, the provenance and reality of their products needs to be genuine to the image they create.

Consumers are demanding transparency in brands more than ever before.

Some of the most successful new brands launched in the past few years, such as fruit smoothie brand Innocent, seem to be those that transparently prove the values in their words and deeds.

Brands can’t get away will pulling off a customer con trick in their marketing or public relations any more. Consumers will find out if brands aren’t what they seem, and the internet means that once that’s been discovered the news spreads fast.

4 Comments on “Pet food poisoning shows brands need to be genuine”

  1. Shirl Gilpin

    WHY does my SaFEWAY STORE IN SAN LEANDRO,CA ON DUTTON AVE LEAVE MOST OF ITS PRIORITY BRAND ON THE SHELF YET? iT TOOK OF CUTS AND GRAVY BUT IT NEEDS TO remove all OF THOSE FLAVORS. tHERE IS SOMETHING ELSE IN THE FOOD BESIDES BAD WHEAT GLUTEN, IT IS SOME PLASTIC SUBSTANCE. Menu Foods asks all of its foods be removed and this Safeway store is not doing that. I read all the updates about the poisoning and the results have changed since the original request went out days ago.

  2. Heather Yaxley

    Simon – I became concerned about pet food a while ago and started reading labels which was an eye-opener. There is generally less than 4% meat (derivatives) in anything despite being named as “chicken” or whatever, but often 8% ash. I switched to better brands, but feel that I am being marketed at now as a concerned pet owner – sucker to pay more than for my own food.

    There are some smaller companies that claim to have the right credentials and aren’t part of Mars etc – but it is so hard to know and the idea of pets being poisoned is just horrific, since they rely on you for decent food.

    I do buy real meat and veg for them, and have been considering whether it is feasible to make my own biscuits to know what is in them (bet there are online recipes).

    If companies are only about conning owners that they are doing right by their beloved pets, they deserve their brands to be destroyed overnight – maybe they will take more care of the production and focus less on the marketing then.

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