Sunday, March 30, 2014

Volume 9, Number 3: An Open Letter to Dean Foods

To: Dean Foods Customer Service Dept.
From: Mark Rabinowitz
Subject: Melody Farms
Date: March 30, 2014

To whom it may concern:

What, exactly, did you do to Melody Farms?

Melody Farms was a Michigan-owned company for over 50 years before Dean Foods bought it in 2003.  I remember them from my childhood and thus considered it to be a brand I trusted for dairy products, especially milk and ice cream.

Yesterday, I came across a special at a local grocery store for Melody Farms’ “frozen dairy dessert” for $1.25 for a 1.75-quart container.  I decided that even though “frozen dairy dessert” is not the same as “ice cream,” I’ve bought products from other companies that had to be called “frozen dairy desserts” (e.g. Breyers), because, even they did not qualify as “ice cream,” I didn’t have any serious issues with them.  Furthermore, Melody Farms, as I’ve said, is a brand I remember favorably from my childhood, so I felt that I couldn’t go wrong.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.  What I had was almost tasteless with no creamy texture.  As a matter of fact, the “cookies & cream” variety had much more of a gritty texture.

I wondered just what I had bought, at which point I did something I should have done way back at the store, which was read the ingredients.

First ingredient: Not milk. WATER.

I was shocked.  Last time I checked, water was never a dairy product, and never will be.

I realize that Dean Foods owns a number of different ice cream brands here in Michigan—Dean’s, Country Fresh, Stroh’s, and Sanders as well as Melody Farms.  Having worked in market research in the past, I imagine that after acquiring Stroh’s, Sanders and Melody Farms, your marketing executives wanted to position each brand differently, and perhaps those executives decided that Melody Farms should be the brand for cheaper “frozen dairy desserts”.  Even if my suppositions are wrong, at least they make sense.

What I don’t get is what I had for dessert earlier today.  A “frozen dairy dessert” whose first ingredient is not a dairy product—that doesn’t make sense.  I would call that disappointing.

In closing, I want you to re-evaluate the recipes you are using for all Melody Farms “frozen dairy desserts”.  I would prefer that my last memory of Melody Farms be something better.  I understand that there will be a market for people who wish to save money by buying a “frozen dairy dessert” instead of a more expensive ice cream.  That does not give Dean Foods the right to serve anything that is extremely disrespectful to older Michigan consumers’ memories of—and trust in—Melody Farms products, and definitely not worthy of being called “frozen dairy desserts”.

Thank you in advance for your time and due consideration.


Mark Rabinowitz

1 comment:

  1. Dean Foods just wrote me back. Their response:

    Thank you for your e-mail to alert us of the recent experience you had with Melody Farms® Ice Cream. Your complaint will be reported to our Quality Assurance Department.

    That's wonderful to hear that you have been a faithful consumer for years but, we are sorry to hear that our frozen dairy dessert did not meet your expectations. Our goal is to produce food products of the highest quality, and everyone here at Dean Foods® shares in that passion. Incidents like the one you reported are rare, but we take our commitment to consumers seriously, and we do apologize for the inconvenience.

    We would like to reimburse you for your purchase, so please email us your mailing address. Also, please send us the Universal Product Code (UPC), and the date codes that are printed on the container. This information is vital to properly document any issues that are encountered with our products and also to issue the appropriate reimbursement. Thank you in advance. We look forward to hearing from you.

    Again, thank you for contacting us, and we hope our products will better meet your expectations in the future.

    Jennifer Martinez
    Consumer Response Representative