Just as social media built the company’s reputation, it also destroyed it. Daily Harvest knew how to use social media and influencers to market its products, but failed to use the outlets for crisis management.
Daily Harvest is a meal delivery service that specializes in healthy plant-based food. The company focuses on convenience. Made for the busy person, Daily Harvest meals are either ready to eat or require minimal preparation. Grain bowls, soups and smoothies aim to make clean eating more accessible.
TikTok influencer Abby Silverman received a PR package from Daily Harvest in May that contained French lentil and leek crumbles. After consuming them, she reported severe stomach pain, leading to two visits to the ER. She posted a two minute Tik Tok video about her experience that went viral with more than 1 million views and almost 4,000 comments. This post was a catalyst of conversation which forced Daily Harvest to take action.
In June of 2022, Daily Harvest voluntarily recalled their French lentil and leek crumbles. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the meals caused sickness in 500 people and sent 113 people to the hospital. Those who consumed the crumbles claimed to experience symptoms such as stomach pain, liver problems, jaundice, dark urine, fatigue, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, back pain and shoulder pain. A lawyer representing a number of victims reported that over 25 of his clients had to get their gallbladders removed.
Daily Harvest claims they took immediate and proper action in a statement published on their website. The company explained that as soon as they received reports of the contaminated French lentil and leek crumbles they motioned a recall. Customers who received the product were notified and an investigation was launched with the FDA.
Considering that Daily Harvest acquired most of their business on social media, they should have also used it as a platform to spread information on the French lentil and leek crumbles recall. Daily Harvest failed when it came to keeping their customers informed and victims found themselves looking to Reddit forums for answers and guidance.
Their first Instagram post on the issue aimed to advertise a different product while leading people to a link in their bio for concerns on the French lentil and leek crumbles recall. Burying information while customers’ health was at risk was unprofessional and inappropriate. Daily Harvest had an obligation to keep their customers informed and failed to take the situation seriously enough.
From a PR standpoint, there are numerous ways this crisis could have been handled better. Daily Harvest was slow to report to their customers on the facts they needed. They neglected to post on social media, portraying a lack of accountability. Customers lost trust in the company based on their response to the issue. A crisis on any scale can sometimes be unavoidable, yet what the company can control is an appropriate PR response that can mend the relationship between consumer and business.