Pet food brands need to pay close attention to product safety. Recalls can mean the loss of customers. A whopping 71% of shoppers surveyed by Petful.com said they would lose trust in their preferred pet food brand if the brand had to issue a product recall — for any reason.
“Pet parents today are carefully scrutinizing every aspect of their pets’ safety, and that goes especially for pet food,” says Dave Baker, publisher of Petful, who has been tracking U.S. dog and cat food recalls for more than a decade. “When it comes to pet food, trust is everything.”
On the bright side for pet food brands, 2020 so far has been an unusually quiet period for recalls in the United States. As of Aug. 25, only three pet food recalls have been issued in 2020 vs. seven during the same period in 2019 and 25 during the same period in 2018, according to research from Petful.
Even though a brand’s reputation can take an initial hit in the days after issuing a pet food recall, the company may be able to recover quickly, depending on how effectively it responds to the crisis.
“Any pet food brand can experience a recall — sometimes for very minor reasons. A lot of times, this means the company actually has stellar quality control and is on top of safety issues,” Baker says. “Unless there’s extreme negligence resulting in sickness or deaths, or a long history of really bad quality control and failed inspections, what matters to me is how that brand responds to the recall. Are they being open, transparent, and cooperative, or are they trying to skirt responsibility?
“I want to see the company quickly and fully own up to the problem and then clearly explain to its customers how the issues will be fixed going forward. I don’t want to see stonewalling — denying there’s a problem, not learning from past mistakes, blaming suppliers instead of looking inward, slamming regulators for supposed overreach, or trying to sneak ‘silent recalls’ past consumers and the media. Those are all huge, honking red flags that tell me, ‘This company puts profits over pets’ safety.'”