Until recently our two favorite manufacturers of kibble pet food were Champion Pet Foods and Natura. Both manufactured in-house so they did not use a co-packer (a big plus with us) and used high-quality ingredients. Unfortunately, Natura, the manufacturer of popular specialty brands of pet food such as Innova, Evo, California Natural, Healthwise, Mother Nature and Karma, was acquired on June 1, 2010 by… you guessed it, Proctor and Gamble. You may recall that P & G bought Iams and Eukanuba years ago, back when those brands defined premium pet food. Some consumers still believe that to be the case to this day. However, the ingredients and their sourcing changed, and conformed to a corporate approach to formulating foods for both human and animal consumers. Formulations are changed to focus on mass ingredient availability, maximum shelf life and of course cost savings, which leads to more ingredients being sourced from China (remember the recent large pet food recall?) and from waste or byproducts of the human food industry.
This has lead to us fazing out popular brands of pet food such as Evo and Innova. There is a reason that we place so much emphasis on the quality of the foods we carry. We are responsible for the health and safety of our animals and those of our customers. I think some of our customers sometimes may think we try to sell them more expensive pet food or are too extreme, but after comparing ingredients and selecting the pet foods you are going to supply to your customers, the only thing you can really count on is the honesty and intent of the manufacturer, and you have to choose wisely. The quality of the ingredients count, but anyone can say anything. What truly matters is the intent of the manufacturer! Everyone wants to make a profit, but does the manufacturer really want to put a safe and healthy product on the market, or does profit rule? We all know with big business, the largest responsibility is to the shareholder, not to you the consumer, and especially not to your dog or cat.
Proctor and Gamble is going to bring their newly acquired Natura pet food line into the mainstream market and soon you will find these foods in big box stores and maybe even supermarkets. However, supporting a huge corporate structure and providing ever-growing profits to shareholders while maintaining Natura’s historic level of attention to quality, health and safety would be more than difficult with the current profit margins. Something has to give, and by looking at the long list of recalls and the ingredients used in Iams and Eukanuba pet foods, I think we can quickly see what that will be – quality of ingredients.
Unfortunately, I feel the Natura product line will go the way of the once proud and respected Iam and Eukanuba pet food products. The ingredient sourcing and quality will decrease dramatically and the marketing will increase just as dramatically in the opposite direction. Soon you will see commercials on television featuring dogs and cats running through the grass romping and playing in glorious health. The sad part is, it will be just that – marketing, but good marketing that will fool millions of consumers. The real truth will be told on the ingredient panel and seen in the offices of veterinarians around the country.