According to the Pet Food Industry's database, the top six pet food companies in the US gross over 35 BILLION dollars per year. The top two earners, Mars Petcare Inc and Nestle' Purina PetCare account for over 12 billion of that revenue. Big Heart Brands and Hill's Pet Nutrition both earn about 2 billion per year, with Diamond and Blue Buffalo each taking in a little over one billion each.
Personally, I think companies making that much money from the food they sell should take a higher interest in providing high quality products for our pets. I found a great blog in a trade journal talking about ways in which pet food companies can maximize profits while lowering the cost of ingredients used to make the food. I understand they are in business to make money, but our pets should not have to suffer eating waste products from the human food industry. We should not have to pay a premium for low quality products.
Pet food companies understand that consumers are asking for higher meat content in foods, as that is what our pets are meant to eat. But they are STILL deceiving the pet-owning public. If a pet food contains at least 4% meat, the label can read, 'Made with Meat.'
Shockingly, the meat portion may be the first ingredient on the list and still only make up 4% of the diet, as in this example of a food labeled as "Made with real beef":
Beef, whole grain corn, barley, rice, whole grain wheat, chicken by-product meal, corn gluten meal, beef tallow preserved with mixed-tocopherols, soybean meal, oat meal, poultry by-product meal, glycerin, egg and chicken flavor, mono and dicalcium phosphate, calcium carbonate, salt, potassium chloride, poultry and pork digest, dried spinach, dried peas, dried carrots, MINERALS [zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, manganese sulfate, copper sulfate, calcium iodate, sodium selenite], VITAMINS [Vitamin E supplement, niacin, Vitamin A supplement, calcium pantothenate, pyridoxine hydrochloride (Vitamin B-6), Vitamin B-12 supplement, thiamine mononitrate (Vitamin B-1), Vitamin D-3 supplement, riboflavin supplement (Vitamin B-2), menadione sodium bisulfite complex (Vitamin K), folic acid, biotin], choline chloride, L-Lysine monohydrochloride, Red 40, Yellow 6, Yellow 5, Blue 2, garlic oil.
If the recipe contains at least 14% meat, the label can read, ' Made with extra meat.' I repeat: A pet food product with only 14% meat can be labeled as containing extra meat. How many pet food consumers would understand they are feeding a product that is only 14% meat with that on the label? You would more likely be thinking you are feeding a high meat product to your pet. High-meat pet food is generally defined as having fresh meat contents of greater than 30%.
Sometimes by combining low-quality animal protein with vegetable protein, products get the texture and appearance of meat. In other words, you think those little meaty-type pieces in the food bowl are meat, when in reality they are just dyed and pressed vegetable or grain matter. Such deceit.
Until the pet food industry is required to label their products with the actual amount of each ingredient in the bag, consumers will be left guessing. If you want answers, call the company and ask for a breakdown of the actual amounts of each ingredient.
Personally, I like one label on the freeze dried raw product I feed my cats: "Contains 93% meat, organs, and bones". That's pretty clear.
Buy food for your pets with labels that are clear and understandable. Can you pronounce every ingredient? Do you know what is in the container when you read the label.
Until the top players in the pet food industry are willing to provide high quality ingredients with clear labeling, spend your hard-earned dollars elsewhere. Support the smaller companies that care more about your pets.