Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Pet food's "dirty little secret"

Last week I asked if the Menu Foods and Peter Pan recalls would lead to consumer mistrust of brands. I hadn't seen any mainstream media outlets reporting on how suspicious it seemed that premium dog and cat food brands were rolling off the same production lines as store brand pet food.

I still haven't found any good articles in newspapers or on TV, but Ad Age ran a story (subscription required) that's been recounted in other outlets. Here's a choice little excerpt from Monsters & Critics.

The scandal has revealed the shameful secret of pet food manufacturers. The same stuff is repackaged and sold at a higher price.

"Branded companies for years when they used co-packing arrangements have tried to keep that their little shoppers' secret," said Burt Flickinger to AdAge, principal with the consulting firm Strategic Resource Group. "But now this whole scandal can dismantle the pricing architecture for branded products when consumers can see that branded is essentially the same stuff with a higher price point."

"Most consumers will give them the benefit of the doubt that they must have separate formulas for expensive Eukanuba," said Laura Ries to AdAge, president of marketing consultancy Ries & Ries. "In many cases you know with private labels that those products are coming off the same belts as the branded products, and in some cases there is very little difference. ... But most people want to believe in brands, buy brands and trust brands."