To Blue Buffalo:
Hello. I am a small, independent brick-and-mortar retailer of high-quality dog food and supplies in suburban Minneapolis, Minnesota. I have openly stated my philosophy on dog food on my website (www.totaldogcompany.com). One of the principles is “no by-products.”
When I heard of Purina’s opening salvo in the chicken by-product meal controversy, I was sympathetic to Blue Buffalo—if I trust David, I’ll back him in a battle against Goliath any day. I believed that Purina was probably cooking up something to make people lose trust in you. Then comes word that, indeed, there has been by-product meal in Blue Buffalo food. Now I find myself losing trust in you, and it hasn’t been because of anything Purina did: it’s because of what you HAVEN’T done.
- You have not communicated directly to the retailers who sell your product (or is it just me who hasn’t seen even a single communication—formal or informal—on this controversy). I don’t know any more than any of my customers about what happened or what is happening or what you are going to do. We are a very important front-line participant in your marketing and should be kept informed proactively.
- You have not identified the product(s) that were affected by this snafu. Which products and lot numbers contain by-product meal?
- You have not voluntarily recalled those products. If you really cared about the customers who buy Blue Buffalo and the dogs (and cats) who eat it, you would want to get the adulterated food out of the food chain.
- You have described neither the quality assurance procedures that were in place before the by-product meal entered the supply chain, nor the changes you have made to those procedures since the discovery. If the absence of by-products is important enough to trumpet in your True Blue Promise, there should be checks in place to make sure that promise is being kept.
I am going to do two things:
- Since I don’t know for sure that the Blue Buffalo products in my store are free of by-products, I am going to pull them off the shelves and request that you—through my distributor, Pet Food Experts Midwest—take them back and replace them at your expense, only when you can assure me that they do not contain by-product meal.
- Until I regain my trust in your products and your company, I am going to counsel all my Blue Buffalo customers to switch to another brand. I understand that I am but the tiniest of drops in your sales bucket, so my action will not affect you; if I can’t talk customers into buying some other brand, it will affect me significantly. I don’t trust that your new chicken meal supplier does things any differently than the last one, nor do I know that you are doing anything to inform yourselves whether or not the new supplier is doing things differently than the last one.
I look for you to step up and act with integrity and with the best interests of our pets at heart.
Please contact me to discuss this.
Total Dog Company
9432 36th Ave N.
New Hope MN 55427