Purina’s Beneful line is not a new release. Beneful, a gourmet line of dog food, first appeared on the pet food market in 2001. The volume of sales is rather tremendous. 14 million dogs per year are fed a steady diet of Beneful. These canines are not prone to complaining, but Beneful ran into some problems with ingredients weaved into the mix. A recent article published in the Huffington Post titles “Beneful Revisited” refutes some of the criticisms and allegations levied at Beneful. (See, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/carlotta-cooper/beneful-revisited_b_9851634.html)
The article points out the ingredient propylene glycol factored heavily into the criticism levied at Beneful. The trouble is many confuse propylene glycol with a completely different compound found in anti-freeze, ethylene glycol. The names of the two “glycols” are similar and this has led to major confusion. Propylene glycol is government approved. Not only is it found in pet foods, it is found in human foods.
Complaints about mycotoxins in Beneful foods surfaces, but these complaints were more than a bit overstated. The same mycotoxins can be traced in other pet foods. Still, bad press derived from the reports. Bad press can cause a lot of hassles for a company as Nestle Purina soon found out.
More than just bad public relations hassles, Purina found itself a victim of civil litigation over the Beneful line. After some costly legal bills, Purina scores a victory when roughly one-third of the plaintiffs dropped out of the proceedings. The legal teams suing Purina have had to make changes to allegations as well. This would indicate things may eventually turn out well for Purina. Once again, bad public relations is unavoidable when civil suits are filed. The stigma of being sued might hang over the Beneful brand unless a strong image-improvement campaign is undertaken. Purina knows this, which is why the company is trying to publicly address and refute negative claims made against it.
If the strategy works, Beneful see its already impressive sales figures on Amazon grow even higher.
Bad public relations does derive from confusing scenarios such as these. Beneful.com has had to deal with bad news, but the company has done a good job fighting back.