Procter & Gamble subsidiary pulls out of Quebec market

By Robert Frank

Quebec pet owners and pet-food merchants are alarmed at a decision by American multinational consumer products giant Procter & Gamble’s animal food subsidiary to withdraw from selling in Quebec its specialized products for animals that suffer from food allergies.

“Natura Pet products will no longer be distributed in Quebec,” customer business development manager Dave Popp wrote in a letter to merchants, Feb. 28.

“Natura has decided to discontinue the sales of its products in Quebec because it was not able to support the bilingual packaging requirements of the Office De La Langue Francaise (sic) for its products,” he explained.

“While the decision by Natura will not affect your ability to sell your inventory of Natura products, once you have depleted your supply you will no longer be able to order replenishments,” Popp concluded.

The decision will hit poor people’s pets disproportionately, Sylvie Brunet told The Suburban.

“These are highly specialized products which cater to animals with severe allergy problems,” explained Brunet, who has operated the Yazoo pet food store in Pointe Claire’s Valois Village for nearly 22 years. “We’ve been looking for an alternative, but so far we have come up with nothing.”

She said that although a California firm offers a similar product, “it also doesn’t have the requisite bilingual packaging, and would cost twice the price to ship it here.”

“People now have to drive to Hawkesbury, Ontario [just across the Quebec border], because they can’t get it anywhere else,” Brunet added.

“People who are well off can afford to drive there and pick up a six-month supply,” she said, “but people who live from paycheck to paycheck won’t be able to get it.”

“If the allergic animals eat conventional pet food, they will end up in the veterinary clinic on cortisone or other drugs,” Brunet concluded. “That’s expensive, not to mention the veterinary fees it will entail.”

“It was just a necessity of business,” Procter & Gamble spokesman for its Natura Pet subsidiary Jason Taylor told The Suburban. “We were not in a position to get bilingual labeling for all these products.”

“We don’t know whether this is a permanent decision,” Taylor said in a telephone interview from Procter & Gamble’s Cincinnati headquarters. “We will look at trying to comply with these decisions and will look at [whether to] reenter the market going forward.”

The pet-food pullout is not Procter & Gamble’s first withdrawal from Quebec.

Until 1994, the company manufactured all of its Secret personal deodorant sticks sold in North America at its Pointe Claire plant located at the corner of St. John and Highway 40.

The site lay fallow during many years of Péquiste government rule and was subsequently demolished. Investors Group recently constructed a small office building there.

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