CORE FOODS: To Withdraw or Not to Withdraw CORE Meals?
On April 12, 2013, Corey Rennell, the founder and CEO of CORE Foods (CF), was faced with the decision of whether or not to withdraw $100,000 worth of CORE Meals from distributors and retailers who had purchased product from the last production run. The company's product, CORE Meals, was a meal replacement nutritional bar made from high quality, organic, mainly plant-based ingredients that were minimally processed. Since the products did not use preservatives, CORE Meals lasted only a week without refrigeration, one month when chilled and six months frozen. The company had recently switched to a new type of oats, one of the main ingredients in CORE Meals. However, within weeks, the company received complaints from customers about a spicy cayenne-like after-taste, something that was not evident during the initial product testing. While the after-taste was not a health issue warranting a mandatory product recall, Rennell and his team felt it would be a "disservice to consumers if they sold something that had a different aftertaste from what they were used to." A decision as to whether or not to withdraw may come at a high cost to the brand and/or the bottom line. What were the alternatives? And what action(s) should Rennell and his team take going forward that was both in keeping the company's ethos as well as maintaining its financial viability?