While my wife is the only true vegetarian in the Dominick household, all of us eat many meatless meals and we endeavor to support cruelty-free agriculture. So, one of the staples you’ll find in our freezer are Morningstar Farms’ Veggie Dogs.

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Well, I should say one of the staples you’ll usually find. We haven’t been able to find any Veggie Dogs anywhere lately, so our freezer has an empty space at the moment.

With a little research, my wife came upon a page on Morningstar Farms’ Web site that says: “SORRY ABOUT THE DOG DELAY…We’re sorry that Morningstar Farms® America’s Original Veggie Dogs and corn dog varieties are temporarily out of stock. Supply issues have delayed production, and we do not yet have a specific date for the products’ return to stores.”

Ooh, supply issues! Time to investigate! Was this out-of-stock situation due to:

  • A supplier going out of business?
  • A Force Majeure event?
  • Supplier production and delivery problems (a.k.a. poor management at the supplier’s plant)?
  • Quality rejections?
  • Poor supply chain planning on the part of Morningstar Farms?
  • A buyer-supplier dispute (perhaps due to something like the buyer failing to pay invoices on time)?

It could be any number of things. What was it?

I tried to get to the heart of the matter by contacting Morningstar Farms’ PR firm and trying to arrange to speak with a Morningstar Farms representative. This, I thought, would be a good way for Morningstar Farms to get a positive message out to their customers as well as to provide an opportunity for readers of this blog to learn about handling a supply crisis in the real world.

After all, I am a devoted Morningstar Farms customer. I wanted to give them an opportunity to put their spin on this uncomfortable situation.

Unfortunately, all I got back was cut-and-pasted PR-speak that certainly didn’t do Morningstar Farms any favors. The email said: “As you know, the MorningStar Farms America’s Original Veggie Dogs are temporarily out of stock at this time, due to a supply issue that has delayed production. We are continuing to work through this issue and hope to have the product back in stores as quickly as possible.”

I gave them another opportunity to elaborate – after all, this sweep-it-under-the-carpet response was less than appetizing – but they declined.

While I understand that no company wants to reveal its weaknesses to a competitor, sometimes it is more important to be upfront with the constituency that matters more – your customers. Instead of doing this, Morningstar Farms’ veil of secrecy and lack of a timeline will certainly compel their customers to source from Morningstar competitors sooner rather than later. And that, my friends, is an even better result for those competitors.

If executives can’t understand how good procurement can create a competitive advantage, perhaps they can at least see how bad procurement (and bad PR) can create a competitive disadvantage. If that doesn’t give them heartburn, I don’t know what will.

To Your Career,
Charles Dominick, SPSM
President & Chief Procurement Officer
Next Level Purchasing, Inc.
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Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3

Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3 is an internationally-recognized business expert, legendary procurement thought leader, award-winning entrepreneur, and provocative blogger. Charles founded the Next Level Purchasing Association in 2000, oversaw its incredible growth, and successfully led the organization to its acquisition by the Certitrek Group in 2016. He continues to blog and provide advisory services for the NLPA on a part-time basis as he incubates his upcoming business innovations. Charles is also the co-author of the wildly popular, groundbreaking book, "The Procurement Game Plan: Winning Strategies & Techniques For Supply Management Professionals."

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