Friday, November 30, 2007

Dancing Deer writes back

(Update 11.9.2008: be sure to see their second response in the comments of this post here and my final post on the issue.)

I got a response to my email to Dancing Deer bakeries (see this post):
Dear David,
Thank you for your e-mail. The Deers always appreciate feedback. As you mention in your e-mail, Dancing Deer is a company that prides itself on environmentally friendly practices - this means packaging too!
Originally, the product development team intended the shortbread cookies to be a "lunchbox" cookie. This meant that the individual packaging (though arguably excessive) would allow parents to easily add a quick dessert to their child's lunch. Since the cookies' usage has become more widespread, we have (and will continue to) consider using less packaging. I'll be sure to pass your suggestion onto the packing team!
Thanks again, David - it's conscientious consumers like you, who allow us to continually improve our products!

Customer Service
I'm fairly satisfied with the response -- it's not automated based on keywords and they clearly read the email. We'll see if they actually change the packaging, but this is a start.

1 comment: said...

Dear David,
I was searching the web this evening and ran in to your post regarding the two packs, and Alison's response form a year ago. I'm sorry I hand't been aware of it at the time. Alison was a really great CSR who worked for us last year during the Holidays.

Unfortunately she didn't have the full information on this one. The two pack solution and the whole boxed cookie program was the result of a concerted study of the total usage of petro based material, as well as total packaging material. We concluded this was the greenest solution short of not packaging cookies for sale at all. We considered trays and other methods of keeping the cookies from breaking and also keeping them fresh and minimizing waste. We looked at what happens to cookies when they are in a larger bag and how much petro based in-home packaging is used once the bag is opened.Repackaging cookies from a large bag to another bag for later consumption (such as packing lunches) puts you over the total weight of film used in the two-pack format. Trays use far more plastic and we found that we could prevent the breakage by the pillowing effect of the individual packs. We sized the box to have no excess air so it is significantly smaller than the other 6 oz entries in that category and more honest to the consumer, which is always one of our objectives. Reducing the size of the box gives us less "real estsate" on the shelf and so is disadvantageous from a merchandising point of view. However we hope that over time consumers will have an educated appreciation of our approach and that will compensate for short term losses of sales dues to lower visibilty on the shelf. The box is 100% recycled fiber (as is all the board and paper we use except adhesive labels as we have not yet found a supplier of such a material. We always use soy or vegetable inks. We ship in 100% recycled corrugated and use corn starch "peanuts" instead of styrofoam. We do use some petro-based bubble wrap (as little as possible)as we have not yet found a satisfactory alternative cushioning solution that prevents breakage. But the bubble we use has 25% recycled plastic. We are constantly on the lookout for something better.

I hope this information is useful to you. We are developing a more comprehensive FAQ page and also will have, at some point, a dedicated section for information on our packaging. It is one of my particular interests and we are always working on improvements. But we have many projects in the works and are a small company so not everything happens instantly as I'm sure you can understand.

Thanks for your interest. I deeply believe in consumer advocacy and challenging "green" and "social responsibility" claims. The bar should be high and we can all continue to raise it by being attentive and diligent. Dancing Deer has a pretty good record and I'm proud of it. However we still fall far short of my own hopes and expectations. It is a work in process. But I assure you it is one that I take very seriously. I've spent 13 years building this company. My real agenda is to use cookies to create positive change in the world.

Best regards,
Trish Karter
President, Chief Deer, Floor Sweeper
Dancing Deer Baking Company, Inc.