Investors Might Revive Shuttered Raw Pet Food Co.
Months after issuing a voluntary recall of more than 300 lots of food, Radagast Pet Food, the Portland, Ore.-based makers of Rad Cat Raw Diet, recently announced it was shuttering its doors. However, the company’s owners hope that a crowdsourcing campaign—and perhaps a new investment partner—will help get Radagast back on its feet.
The company’s co-founders, Tracey Hatch-Rizzi and Janice Hatch-Rizzi, issued a letter on its website on Oct. 15, explaining in detail the decision to close. Citing economic hardship following a recall of its food last summer, the company wrote that it was “economically impossible” to continue running its business.
“Our shut down was pure economics—cash not coming in fast enough. It’s simply fallout from having to recall 340 lots of food in August,” the letter said.
“The letter we wrote making the announcement that we were closing was a very difficult letter to write—it was one of the hardest things we’ve ever had to do,” Tracey Hatch-Rizzi told Pet Product News. “We strongly feel it is important for consumers and retailers to know the entire truth about what happened to us. Transparency is one of the values we’ve held to very strongly, and it’s become a hallmark of our brand.”
In cooperation with the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), Radagast recalled its Rad Cat Raw Diet products in August due to potential listeria contamination, after which, several events impacted the company’s cash flow, according to Hatch-Rizzi. She cited recall expenses, increased production expenses and “not getting paid in a timely manner from distributors and our recall insurance” as factors that contributed to the closure.
“As we saw our debt climbing, and a big portion of it was secured personally, we had to make the excruciating decision to stop producing,” she said. “It’s monumentally sad especially since our company was growing at more than 30 percent, even throughout the recalls.”
The letter also debunked rumors that the FDA was the cause of the company’s closure, emphasizing, “We have never had a sanitation violation in any of our facilities, ever, including from recent visits from the FDA.”
The company received an outpouring of support after it the letter was published. Following the initial letter, the company posted two follow-up blogs that provided more detail and insight about the decision to close its business.
“Providing this level of information had a tremendous impact on the readers,” Hatch-Rizzi said. “We’ve received hundreds of emails, voicemails and social media messages from retailers and pet parents that are devastated about losing our products on store shelves.”
That level of support led the company to launch a crowdsourcing campaign on GoFundMe just five days after it announced its closure.
“I have to admit that we didn’t expect to have so many people want to contribute to a fund to help us out,” Hatch-Rizzi said. “Starting a campaign like this wasn’t something we would have considered, but we had so many requests for us to set it up, that we finally did. It’s incredibly humbling to have so many people want to support us in this way. Every dollar will help us to be able to get our products on the market again.”
The campaign’s funding goal is $1.2 million. As of press time, the company raised $24,018. Hatch-Rizzi said the company hasn’t determined how long the company will run the campaign for, but the company is considering other options as well.
“We have been contacted by multiple individuals looking to invest in the brand and some others that are interested in carrying on the brand themselves,” she said. “It takes time to talk to all of the parties that have contacted us, but we are confident that we will find a good partner to help bring the brand back to all of the kitties that rely on it.”
In August, following the recalls, the company released a document explaining the actions it took to find the source of the potential contamination.
“The source of bacteria which caused the recall has never come into contact with any of our food products, but did come into contact with some of the drippings. After dismantling the entire piece of equipment in question, down to the motor, we found a small part with a concealed screw,” the company wrote in August. “We identified and addressed the source of intermittent contamination, fixed it, and have every confidence in our products.”
Hatch-Rizzi said following the recall, the company’s retail partners were very supportive.
“Most were surprised and put in a difficult position because the recall took a lot (or all) of what was on their shelves,” she said. “We also received a considerable amount of understanding and outrage at regulatory agencies because most, if not all, retailers that are selling raw food know that the category is under regulatory scrutiny and has been for a few years now.”