Greenies - New Formula
(easier for dogs to chew and digest)
"Top-selling dog treat gets makeover following complaints"
by Dave Twiddy, Associated Press, Oct
KANSAS CITY, MO. - The makers of
Greenies, the nation's top-selling dog treat, are rolling out a
newly formulated version they say is easier for dogs to chew and
The change comes months after a series of lawsuits and media reports
claimed the treat sometimes sickened or killed dogs.
Officials with S&M NuTec, a Kansas City-based company that was
acquired earlier this year by candy maker Mars Inc., said they had
been working on a new formula even before the negative publicity,
but they acknowledged they hope the updated Greenies win back
skittish pet owners.
"We know there are perception issues out there about the original
Greenies," said Kristy Vetter, consumer care strategy coordinator
for S&M NuTec. "We think this will give pet owners confidence about
what they're giving their dogs and help their dogs maintain happy,
Greenies are hard, dark green treats shaped like a bone on one end
and a toothbrush on the other. The company claims the treats help
scrub the dog's teeth, preventing periodontal disease and freshening
the animal's breath.
The treats have proven extremely popular, with S&M NuTec saying it
sold 315 million Greenies last year. Market research firm
Euromonitor International said Greenies represented almost 20
percent of the U.S. dog treat market in 2005.
That dominance was threatened earlier this year when CNN and
numerous newspapers began reporting stories from pet owners claiming
undigested Greenies had caused throat and intestinal blockages that
required surgery and were sometimes fatal. CNN estimated in February
that at least 13 dogs had died, and a class-action lawsuit against
S&M NuTec is currently pending in federal court in Missouri.
Company officials have repeatedly said the treats are safe when used
as directed. They have noted that owners must buy the correct size
of Greenies for their dogs and must be sure their pets adequately
chew the treats.
But Vetter said "any good business looks for ways to improve" and,
with the help of Mars' researching arm, the company has added
features to address many of its critics' claims.
She said the new treats have a chewier texture and "break points"
built in to help dogs crunch the treats into smaller,
easier-to-swallow pieces. The ingredients have also been changed to
break down more quickly in the stomach.
Vetter said the reformulated Greenies are already on shelves in mass
retailers such as PetsMart and Petco and should begin appearing in
veterinarians' offices and independent pet suppliers by early
S&M NuTec also plans a major marketing push to encourage pet owners
to get their dogs' teeth checked and cleaned regularly.
Alan Sash, an attorney representing plaintiffs in the class-action
lawsuit, as well as a New York couple who sued the company last
November after the death of their dog, said he was pleased the
company was changing the formula.
"I doubt it's a coincidence, considering the timing of the change
and the fact we asked for a change as part of our class action,"
Euromonitor analyst Beth Higgins said it's too early to determine
how deeply the negative publicity this year hurt S&M NuTec's sales,
but she said a new formula should help regain some lost ground.
"It looks like they've done a lot more research, probably more than
any other pet care product," Higgins said. "If people are willing to
read the label and see how it works, customers will be willing to
come back to the product."
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