UPDATE: The acquisition by Nestle-Purina occurred in January 2014. In February 2018, it was announced that Zuke’s will merge with another natural pet food company owned by Purina – Merrick Pet Care, an natural and organic pet-food company. Both are good companies, and the news is recent, so I’m waiting to see how everything shakes out before updating this article. However, I do know that 24 of Zuke’s 36 employees will be laid off – 16 of whom are located in Durango – during this consolidation with Merrick headquarters in Texas. The employees who lost their jobs are receiving outplacement support services, severance benefits, and benefit continuation (for an unknown amount of time). Jack Llewellyn, executive director of the Durango Chamber of Commerce, added: “Whenever large companies purchase smaller companies, it’s all about the economics, and they are going to evaluate whether it makes sense or not to consolidate.” (Source)
Honestly, I wasn’t very happy about the news. Zuke’s is a brand that I highly respect. We’ve loved Zuke’s since I discovered their first product on the shelves, Power Bones – a “power bar” to fuel your dog’s adventures. I have been working with Zuke’s for reviews and partnerships for a couple years now and they are currently a long-term sponsor of this blog. The staff is great and Zuke’s truly cares about dogs (and cats), pet health, and fueling active adventures with your dog.
I don’t feel the same about Purina. Among other things that affect my opinion of them, Purina makes Beneful and there has been some controversy around that food. I admit that I know more about the negative sentiment among vigilant pet owners that surrounds the brand than I do about the facts and the brand itself. There was some information circulating that Beneful was responsible for causing some dogs to get sick or die. The FDA found that Purina Beneful did not cause the death of the dog in the most notable case – a 2 1/2 year old English Mastiff. There is still some skepticism among pet owners though and, founded or not, some pet owners do not trust the Purina brand.
Upon hearing the news about Purina acquiring Zuke’s, I did a little research. Like I said, I wasn’t super pleased by the news but did not want to rush to judgement. Some large companies acquire smaller ones but allow them to operate as if they were still independent. It turns out, that is the case here.
Zuke’s will operate independently under Purina. The Zuke’s company stated that “Zuke’s will continue creating and producing outdoors-inspired, safe and healthy dog and cat treats in the same facilities, in the same way, right here in the USA.” Meiering, the original founder of Zuke’s, will continue to serve in an advisory role.
According to an article in Pet Age Magazine, Meiering stated, ““I’m personally so pleased that Zuke’s is now a part of the Nestlé Purina family, Their understanding of Zuke’s core mission of fostering an active and healthy lifestyle for pets and pet parents alike, their commitment to keeping Zuke’s and its employees in Durango as an independent operation, and their ability to help grow the Zuke’s brand in the pet specialty marketplace were important factors in partnering with Nestlé Purina.”
I have not heard yet from my sponsor contact at Zuke’s about the sale. I am a bit disappointed that I was not given a heads-up but understand that some company information can not be released until it goes public. All I have to go on right now is the press releases about the acquisition but I am not panicking.
As long as nothing changes about Zuke’s mission, formulations, and their employees continue to be treated with respect, I am fine with them being owned by Purina. Purina can help Zuke’s reach more people with their mission through years of proven marketing techniques.
I’ll be keeping an eye on how all of this unfolds and let you know if my opinion changes.