Natura’s Response to Interview Questions
The following is Natura’s response to interview questions submitted after the sale to P&G was final. While I greatly appreciate Natura agreeing to answer my questions (some pet food companies ignore even the small questions), I’m not very confident their response says much more than previous statements (eventhough I tried to ask direct questions). You decide if their responses gain your trust in Natura Pet Food.
Black italic font is Natura Pet Food response; blue font is question from TruthaboutPetFood.com…
Susan, thank you for your questions, we appreciate your interest in Natura Pet Products. We know the P&G acquisition has raised many questions and concerns and that emotions are running high. Hopefully this information will help alleviate some of the concerns. We are asking for everyone to take a wait and see approach and not let fear or untruths drive them away from food their pet loves.
Q: For many years, Iams Pet Food, a Proctor and Gamble pet food, has been under serious public scrutiny for animal abuse in pet food testing laboratories. I am not looking for a rebuttal or a discussion of this pet owner scrutiny; the personal feelings about P & G’s suspect animal abuse is ‘out there’. Denying pet owner’s strong feelings on this subject would not is be in the best interest of anyone. Difficult as this might be for P & G, Pet Owners now link their strong feelings about Iams Pet Food animal abuse with Natura. I would like to know how the new Natura, now a P & G company is going to address the feelings of pet owners about this suspect history of animal abuse?
First, regarding animal abuse and Natura Pet Products, we have heard from consumers and retailers and understand the emotion and importance of this issue. Natura Pet has always and will continue to maintain the highest levels of care for the animals that participate in our feeding trials and studies. We have been and will be very clear and transparent on this issue – we do not conduct nor condone invasive animal testing. Some animal testing is needed to determine how a food is accepted and performs, but those studies tend to evaluate weight, skin/coat, vitality and stool quality and palatability. Regarding P&G’s animal policy, I will say that the more I’ve learned the truth about P&G Pet Care’s animal testing, the more impressed I have become. I believe we are very much aligned on this issue. Regardless, we will continue to follow our current principles and protocols in developing our formulas.
Q: Countless thousands of Pet Owners have faithfully trusted the quality of Natura products and have trusted the quality of ingredients within those pet foods. The overwhelming Pet Owner sentiment/belief now, is that P & G will perhaps source a lesser grade or quality of ingredients for the Natura line of pet foods/treats. Pet owners have read Natura’s various statements during the sale process stating P & G’s commitment to maintain the philosophy of quality. However, an overwhelming majority ‘aren’t buying it’. What type of assurances can P & G’s Natura give to Pet Owners that no quality or grade of ingredient will be changed down the road? Specifically, will the quality or grade of ingredients change in any of the Natura products in the future?
Natura will continue to source its ingredients from sources we believe to be of high quality, consistent with our past practices and quality formulas. The best way for pet parents to evaluate our products (and any pet food) is to “ask” the dog or cat. Does the coat shine? Are their stools small and firm? Is the pet behaving normally? Do they like the taste? These external indicators are the window to the pet’s health. Having said that, I’ll also mention that Natura has modified formulas in the past, and we will continue to do so when we have new nutritional science to support the change. In other words, as we learn more about pet health and nutritional needs, we will make positive adjustments. Our concern is that any change, even a beneficial one, will be misconstrued as tinkering or diminishing product quality. We believe the people who purchase Natura brands are extremely educated on pet nutrition and our hope is that the thriving pets themselves are the final proof point.
Q: Many Pet Owners felt that prior to this sale, Natura Pet Foods was a small pet business that cared about the individual pets they provided food to. Today, post sale, many Pet Owners perceive Natura as impersonal, uncaring, and corporate,…one of Big Pet Food. These perceptions of impersonal Big Pet Food are founded on years and years of corporate (all corporate) pet food and Federal Food Safety Agencies dismissing the powerful bond and love between Pet and Pet Owner when a pet food problem occurs. And sadly, these perceptions of uncaring Big Pet Food are founded on the history of corporate behaviors during years of pet illness and death from numerous recalls and silent recalls. If Pet Owners are to ever trust the Natura lines of pet foods again, they will need to see evidence that ‘the small pet business’ they trusted is still there; not corporate pet food. How does Natura plan to gain pet owner trust again?
Natura has a long history of quality products, and that doesn’t change with Procter and Gamble. In fact, that’s why they were interested in Natura to begin with. We are planning on business as usual, but with additional resources to support our brands and the independent pet specialty retailer network where we sell our food. We are not making changes to our structure or how we do business as we believe that personal attention to consumer and pet needs is an important part of our culture. I would expect that promoting our brands more and getting the word out on why all-natural pet foods are important would be a good thing, after all our aim is to provide more pets with good quality nutrition,.
Q: The same holds true for Independent Retailers of Pet Food. Many of these folks have expressed they felt/feel betrayed by this sale. They feel the recommendations of the Independent Retailer is what made Natura the company it is today. Several have written me and shared they were personally promised by the original owners the company would never sell. How does Natura plan to gain the trust of Independent Retailers again?
The Independent Pet Specialty retailers have been our true partner from the beginning. We wouldn’t have the company we have today without their long standing support. We have been one of the few pet food manufacturers who has remained loyal to this network and we did this because we understand and appreciate the value they bring to all-natural pet foods through personally addressing pet parent needs and understanding of good nutrition and its benefits. These retailers are the ambassadors for all-natural pet foods and their high-touch, high-care selling creates credibility for the entire all-natural pet food category. We can’t thank them enough for all they have done for Natura brands. I expect increased support of the Independent Pet Specialty retailers in the future. I believe that retailers who continue to trust Natura and support the Natura Brands will continue to enjoy a strong business and success with Natura products.
Q: Last year, Pet Owners nationwide asked their pet food manufacturer to join Pet Food Recall First Alert; a grass roots effort to end silent pet food recalls (pet foods being pulled from store shelves without notification to consumers). I heard from many discouraged Pet Owners that their requests to Natura Pet Food to join Pet Food Recall First Alert went ignored. I personally made numerous calls to Natura and had several lengthy conversations asking you to join; to no avail. So, I ask you again, as a sign of good faith perhaps…would Natura Pet Food join Pet Food Recall First Alert? By joining, you are giving your word to Pet Owners that you will initiate a consumer email notification system (such as an auto-responder) and giving your word that you will notify all subscribing Pet Owners in a prompt fashion should a problem with a pet food arise. Will Natura join Pet Food Recall First Alert?
We very much appreciate the spirit of the Pet Food Recall First Alert, but when we were asked to join the first time we declined. Natura Pet has very strong procedures in place to announce recalls and we agree to contact you should we ever need to issue a recall. We recognize Thetruthaboutpetfood .com is an important conduit to getting the word out quickly. And we appreciate the offer to participate; however, Natura will not be participating in the Pet Food Recall First Alert effort. This decision was made prior to the P&G acquisition and continues today based on our complete confidence in our internal systems.
Q: The Iams/Eukanuba lines of pet foods purchase ingredients from a world market including China. Will Natura be adding ingredients from the Chinese/Asian market as the Iams/Eukanuba pet foods do?
The China ingredients issue in 2007 was devastating for pet parents and the industry as a whole. Many of us work in this industry because we love pets and there was nothing worse than pets dying from their food. Irrespective of country of origin, we will only use trusted suppliers providing a safe, sound option for ingredients. I believe we have learned a lot from the China debacle which has resulted in better practices and more oversight, that said, we have no reason to change and we will continue with our current sourcing practices.
Q: Transparency in industry is rapidly becoming an everyday consumer demand. What steps will Natura take to provide transparency to Pet Owners regarding quality of ingredients, country of origin of ingredients, and quality control?
Natura Pet believes a well informed pet parent is our best customer. We will continue to list ingredients on the labels and continue to produce our dry products in Fremont, Nebraska. I would encourage all pet parents devoted to all-natural feeding to read the labels and visit manufacturer’s web sites for details on ingredients. Please note that pet food is one of the most highly regulated consumer businesses, and we must always stay in compliance with federal regulations in the way we list and name our ingredients. I encourage everyone to stay involved in their pet’s nutrition and become educated about formulas, ingredients and quality of manufacturing.
Q: Will the ‘Natura philosophy’ on nutrition be taught to veterinary students as the Iams/Eukanuba philosophy (among others) has been taught for years?
Natura, too, has had an extensive vet student out-reach program. We were the first all-natural pet food introduced to many vet students. Unfortunately, this was a program that was eliminated in January 2010 due to budget and forward focus for the company, but hopefully now with additional resources, we will be able to resurrect it. While I don’t know Iams and Eukanuba’s program details, I would imagine there were differences since our food is very different. I would expect that if we can fund our vet student program again, we will continue with our own materials and philosophy. We were and still are very proud of that program and its incredible success.
President and Chief Operating Officer
Natura Pet Products
So…what do you think? Did this response from Natura Pet Foods move you to stay a customer or become a new customer?
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
What’s in Your Pet’s Food?
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