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Dog Food & Nutrition Index >> Greenies New Formula
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Greenies - New Formula
say is easier for dogs to chew and digest)
"Top-selling dog treat gets makeover following complaints"
by Dave Twiddy, Associated Press, Oct 17,
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 digest.
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
"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, healthy
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
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
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 November.
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," Sash said.
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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