Purina and Merrick Pet Food Deal & Dog Food Recalls

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There was a lot of news last week in the pet food industry, so much so that it deserved a recap. Besides the stunning news that Purina has purchased Merrick Pet Foods, there was also not one, but two pet food recalls announced late last week.
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Purina Purchased Merrick Pet Care

The announcement that Purina has agreed to purchase Merrick Pet Care was timed to coincide with the industry’s SuperZoo 2015 conference in Las Vegas (which I attended). This news truly provided the buzz around the event. I had the opportunity to chat with Garth Merrick, the founder of Merrick Pet Care about the sale of his company and two things stood out. First of all, I detected a sense of pride mixed with a bit of sadness now that his company has been acquired by one of the industry behemoths. Second, Garth stressed that Merrick operations will remain independent and that it will be business as usual, other than the fact that the Merrick Pet Food line will now have the advantage of Purina’s marketing muscle.

 

My take on this deal is that Purina desperately needed to address the fact that they truly did not have a premium pet food line in their portfolio. In that sense, good for Purina. I also don’t think that consumers should now abandon Merrick just because it is now owned by Purina. At least in the short term, Merrick’s operations will remain the same. Time will tell if the food quality and innovation that Merrick has been known for will continue with Purina at the helm. I, for one, am willing to let actions speak for themselves over the coming months and years. Congratulations to Garth Merrick and the entire Merrick organization.

 

Dog Food Recalls

At the end of last week we saw 2 dog food recalls, one by Bravo and one by Nature’s Variety. Over the past 2 months alone, there have been 5 dog food recalls and several treat recalls as well. (For our coverage, click on tag “recall”). This sure seems like a lot of recall activity in a short period of time and it surfaces a question as to the safety, quality standards and processes that pet food companies are using as part of their production workflows. With that said, I am not one that gets “freaked out” when I see a dog food recall, nor will I stop using a dog food brand just because of a recall.

 

In some sense, you can argue that recalls are not a bad thing. After all, when dealing with food, and meats in particular, there is always a chance of contamination. Isn’t it better when the Brand is on top of this and acts quickly to notify consumers when there is even a slight chance of a problem? I would much prefer that a pet food brand act swiftly and aggressively when it comes to recalls. Better safe than sorry, so to speak.

 

However, there can be circumstances around recalls that are troublesome and send up a red flag or two. Two examples come to mind. First is the Natura Pet recalls in 2013. This recall was initially made in April but was expanded two months later, in June. This type of recall scares me as it indicates, to me, the possibility that the company was not transparent about the seriousness of their problem. Furthermore, in the Natura case, the way that the company dealt with the retail pet stores was extremely bad, forcing the retailers to hold products on their shelves for long periods of time.

 

A second, more recent example is with Bravo Pet Foods, which announced last week their fifth recall since 2013. This raises another red flag to me. If a pet food company needs to recall their products five times in 2 years, you wonder if they really care about quality and safety standards at all. One recall in a short period of time (like two years), in my opinion, is acceptable and can help a company find holes in their safety standards and processes. Maybe even two recalls, as “stuff happens”. But five recalls? Not good. It just doesn’t seem like Bravo can learn from their mistakes.

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16 Comments

  1. wow didn’t know about purina, thanks for the news, that is big. Thanks for telling us about the recalls too, there have been just way to many lately.
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…4th Master Pass~Monday MischiefMy Profile

  2. the most food we can buy on our side of the pond is made by Purina (or a company what belongs to Purina), maybe this act is even good for us that we can buy Merrick here too now? I hope Bravo will change their mind and they will do everything to regain the trust of their costumers…
    easy rider recently posted…easyblog MISCHIEF MO(A)NDAYMy Profile

  3. We agree, any food can have an issue and be recalled once now and then, but 5 times is a bit too much! We are waiting to see with Merrick too.
    Emma recently posted…A Tale Of TastyMy Profile

  4. Recalls supposedly mean that the safety systems in place are working. But in truth, I don’t have much confidence in the U.S. food system for humans or non-human animals. Much of the oversight is voluntary thanks to major cuts in government regulation.

    On the other hand, we can only do the best with what we have to deal with. And I too don’t see reason to panic with every recall.
    Pamela recently posted…Why Do We Forgive Dogs Before Humans?My Profile

    • Right, nothing in life is perfect, so all we can do is educate ourselves and do our best.
      mkob recently posted…Purina and Merrick Pet Food Deal & Dog Food RecallsMy Profile

    • I agree with Pamela, well said. A recall for “the possible presence of Salmonella” does not bother me in the least. My dog is eating it not me and a healthy dog has no problem ingesting salmonella.
      Anne recently posted…Do Dogs Get Cavities?My Profile

  5. Thank the doodle for recalls. Can you imagine if they weren’t in place? There are many who do not have warm and fuzzy feelings with the association of Purina and they will probably abandon Merrick which is most unfortunate. But you are spot on when you wrote that Purina needed a premium pet food line. Paws crossed Merrick can remain true to their consumers and benefit from this opportunity. Nicely written Slim.
    Groovy Goldendoodles recently posted…TAIL WAGGIN TUTORSMy Profile

  6. Thanks for sharing this news! Huge that Purina now has acquired Merrick but it’s good to see that they will still remain independent. Looking forward to see if they truly remain consistent with their quality product because we’ve heard great things about Merrick.
    Reagan recently posted…Our lasts mean Reagans firstsMy Profile

  7. Good to know about the recalls. Sure are alot of them!
    De Hufford recently posted…Fetch! Monday Mischief with Aussies in ChargeMy Profile

  8. We love Merrick and will definitely continue to use their products. I hope they are true to themselves. Recalls always scare me, especially with brands that we use.
    M. K. Clinton recently posted…Wellness TruFood is Truly AwesomeMy Profile

  9. Paws crossed that Merrick will remain independent for the long haul. One of the contributing factors to these recalls is a wholesale agri-business mind set much like with human food industry in general. Bigger isn’t necessarily better but allows for economy of scale. Now if only bigger meant no lack of quality. As responsible pet owners we have to monitor these developments and where appropriate demand action, especially in the case of Bravo.
    Monika recently posted…Tuesday Trivia ~ July 28, 2015My Profile

  10. We were also concerned about the Purina buy-out of Merrick. That is one of the foods we alternately buy. Hopefully as you suggest nothing will change except more expensive marketing.
    jan recently posted…The face that launched a thousand memesMy Profile

  11. I had heard about Merrick being part of Purina now. I don’t know what to make of it. Little discouraging I think.
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!
    Jenna,Mark “HuskyCrazed” Drady recently posted…Summer Dawgs – Fun In The SunMy Profile

  12. I don’t feel good about Purina buying out Merrick, but I am just not a fan of Purina or big businesses in general. I prefer to buy from smaller family owned companies if possible.
    But everything you said makes sense, and I agree with your thoughts on recalls as well….any company with that many definitely has some issues they are not addressing.
    Jan K recently posted…Bratty Little Brother – Monday MischiefMy Profile

  13. How cool that you got to attend the SuperZoo Expo in Vegas, AND chat with the owner of Merrick. I sure hope that his quality standards won’t suffer now that Purina purchased Merrick. I suppose it will indeed remain to be seen ~ it won’t affect us as we neither feed Merrick nor anything (else) by Purina, but it certainly will be an interesting development to follow.
    As far as recalls are concerned, I agree with you that quality control of our dogs’ food is necessary & that measures need to be taken where & when appropriate, but a high number of recalls within a fairly short time frame should be thought-provoking.
    Barbara Rivers recently posted…Anicura Natural Pet Solutions ~ Healthy Skin For Your Dog (& Cat!)My Profile

  14. I have been in a bubble so I did not know the news of the sale. Very interesting. I have always loved Merrick and we also really like Purina. Not only are they huge supporters of dog events, but they do make an excellent line of performance foods. Many of the top performing dogs are fed their foods. I am interested to see how the blend of the two works out.
    2 Brown Dawgs recently posted…Senior Hunter Title Plus One~LandMy Profile

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