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PET HAPPENINGS February 2013

Who Makes Your Pet’s Food?
by Kaye Davis co-owner of Moab BARKery

You might be surprised to learn who is in the pet food business today. The same companies that make many of your household items like toothpaste, candy, potato chips, laundry detergent, diapers, and more, are also making the majority of pet foods in the commercial marketplace.

The pet food market has been dominated in the last few years by the acquisition of big companies by even bigger companies. With $15 billion a year at stake in the U.S. and rapidly expanding foreign markets, it is no wonder that some are greedy for a larger piece of the pie and that is why many of these large corporations have also started to purchase premium pet food companies.

Who makes your pet’s food? Here is a list of the major pet food producers and the brands that they produce…

• Nestle bought Purina to form Nestle Purina Petcare Company, they produce Fancy Feast, Alpo, Friskies, Mighty Dog, Dog Chow, Puppy Chow, Kitten Chow, Beneful, One, ProPlan, DeliCat, HiPro, Kit’n’Kaboodle, Tender Vittles & Purina Veterinary Diets.

• Del Monte/Heinz produces Meow Mix, Gravy Train, Kibbles ‘n’ Bits, Wagwells, Cesar, Cycle, Skippy, Nature’s Recipe, Milk Bone, Pup-Peroni, Snausages and Pounce.

• Masterfoods owns Mars Inc. who produces Royal Canin, Royal Canin Prescription Diets, Pedigree, Waltham’s, Cesar, Sheba, Temptations, Goodlife Recipe, Sensible Choice, Excel and Nutro.

• Proctor and Gamble purchased The Iams Company who produce Iams & Eukanuba. They also purchased premium pet food producer Natura Pet Products and now produce Innova, Evo, California Natural, Healthwise, Mother Nature and Karma
• Colgate-Palmolive purchased the Hill’s corporation and produce Hill’s Science Diet, Hill’s Prescription Diet’s and Nature’s Best.

• Private labelers who make food for “house” brands like Kroger and Wal-Mart and co-packers who produce for other pet food makers are also major players. Doane Pet Care was the leading producer of grocery store brand pet food until it was purchased by Mars Inc. in 2006.

• Menu Foods was the largest producer of wet dog and cat food in the country making private label food for Safeway, Wal-Mart, Kroger, PetSmart. They also produced food for Proctor and Gamble under the Iams and Eukanuba label in addition to producing Nutro for Mars. In 2007, after numerous animals fell ill and died, they recalled 60 billion pounds of food that when tested was found to contain aminopterin (rat poison), melamine (plastic) and cyanuric acid (chlorine stabilizer).

• Diamond Pet Foods, while producing a large line of its own pet foods like Diamond Naturals, Taste of the Wild and Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover’s Soul; they also co-pack food for other companies that include Costco’s Kirkland Brands, Solid Gold Health Products and Dick Van Patten’s Natural Balance Pet Foods.

Many major pet food companies in the United States are subsidiaries of gigantic multinational corporations. From a business standpoint, pet food fits very well with companies making human products. The multinationals have increased bulk-purchasing power; those that make human food products have a captive market in which to capitalize on their waste products. For example an ingredient used in Science Diet products is Soy Bean Mill Run.

Soybean Mill Run is the ground hulls (outer shell) of soybeans after the useful bean meal and oil has been extracted. Chances are the useful parts of the soybean is being used in Colgate Palmolive’s extensive line of personal care products but the soybean mill run appears more as a means of waste disposal than dog food ingredient.

Pet food is a billion dollar industry, is there any real wonder why the gigantic corporations want an extra income steam of this magnitude by utilizing waste product of their other industries. Most of these brands have had large scale recalls issued by the USDA; Menu Foods had to recall 60 billion pounds of dog food in one recall. Smaller pet food focused companies are not immune to recalls either. Most of them have voluntarily recalled products before, when they recall a food we are talking at maximum hundreds of pets at risk, not millions as is the case when these giant corporations are forced by the USDA to issue a recall.

It is all about profits and this is one area that can be exploited quite easily with little expenditures to make insane markups using low grade ingredients. With the fact that these large companies are now in the pet food business, the real consideration is whether or not you choose to purchase your pet’s food from a company whose primary focus is NOT pet food vs. a company whose primary focus IS pet food.

So which companies are really focusing on making pet food for your pet? It can be hard to tell. I got on a “mega-market’s” website to look at the food that they offered and of the 22 different brands that they offered only 8 of them were made by pet food companies. Some well-known brands that are made by pet food focused companies are Blue Buffalo, Natural Balance, Merrick, Halo, Wellness, Castor & Pollux, Canidae Pet Foods and Diamond Pet Foods.

Some lesser known pet food producers are companies like KLN Pet Foods that produce premium pet foods like Nutri-Source, PureVita and Natural Planet Organics or Pets Global Company that produces the Zignature line of dry dog food and Fussie Cat line of premium canned cat food (also referred to as kitty crack in the store!). Many of these brands have been producing quality pet foods for years and have never had any recalls. This is because they choose to use high quality and often human grade ingredients.

When choosing foods to purchase for the BARKery our preference is to choose companies that focus very specifically on food for pets. That is why we choose to carry foods like Nutri-Source, Zignature, Stella and Chewys, Bravo, Evangers, Tiki Cat, Fussie Cat, Go, Now, Lotus and Honest Kitchen.

When choosing a food for your pet, the question simply boils down to, who do you trust to feed your pet?

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To see past articles about animals, pets and their care check our archives.

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