The percentage of pet owners in the United States choosing Walmart as their primary pet product source has grown over the past three years. Walmart, PetSmart, Petco and supermarkets were the top four brick-and-mortar sales leaders. In 2017 Walmart sold almost ten billion (yes, billion) dollars worth of pet products in their brick-and-mortar stores (out of a total $69.5 billion spent across the US market). Target sold a bit under $1.5 billion, not even a close second, in pet products during the same period. Online retailer, Amazon, had the highest online pet product sales at $1.4 billion.
These statistics should not be startling, but perhaps they are if you are a regular follower of my sites. Those of us promoting “real food”, raw feeding, and human-grade pet food need to realize the size of the battle looming in front of us. While we are making headway in our education process, clearly there are millions of pet owners that still believe highly nutritious products can be found at huge, impersonal stores selling mass-produced pet feed products. Over 95% of pet owners still feed dry kibble to both cats and dogs.
Large pet feed companies have huge marketing budgets that make false advertising claims every day. While their advertisements and label claims are purportedly monitored and governed by FDA and state agencies, past performance has shown that the companies know they can get away with just about anything. Just look at the Evanger’s debacle with pentobarbital-laden meats sold as “human grade” from “USDA inspected” sources. We all learned the hard way that pet food companies can get away with lying on their websites and package labels.
As an example, the package label below shows grilled steak on the front, however there is NO grilled steak in the food, only grilled steak flavor, which could be a chemical flavoring. In fact, there is actually no beef or real meat of any source in this food, only poultry by-products. “Made in USA” might lead you to believe the ingredients were all sourced in USA, but that is not true. The actual food was processed into kibble in the USA, but the ingredients can be sourced from anywhere (as noted when they say “with the world’s finest ingredients”). I know, you are all saying, “who would feed this?”. It’s one of the leading foods in sales numbers!
Actual ingredients: Ground Whole Grain Corn, Poultry By-Product Meal (Source of Glucosamine & Chondroitin Sulfate), Brewers Rice, Corn Gluten Meal, Soybean Meal, Animal Fat (Source of Omega 6 Fatty Acids [Preserved With Bha / Citric Acid]), Meat And Bone Meal (Source of Calcium), Ground Whole Grain Wheat, Natural Flavor, Chicken By-Product Meal, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Monocalcium Phosphate, Calcium Carbonate, Natural Steak Flavor, Dried Peas, Vitamin E Supplement, Zinc Sulfate, Choline Chloride, Niacin [Vitamin B3], Biotin, Dried Carrots, Bha & Citric Acid (A Preservative), Red 40, Blue 2, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, D-Calcium Pantothenate [Source of Vitamin B5], Riboflavin Supplement [Vitamin B2], Pyridoxine Hydrochloride [Vitamin B6], Copper Sulfate, Potassium Iodide, Vitamin A Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate [Vitamin B1], Vitamin D3 Supplement), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid.
Note that BHA and food dyes have been shown to be carcinogenic, yet pet food producers feel it is fine to add those ingredients to a diet that will be fed to a dog day in and day out for years.
Many of us are frustrated when we see oblivious pet owners loading their shopping carts with poor quality pet feed with false advertising on labels and in commercial advertisements. We must continue to educate those around us and help them make better decisions, without ridicule. Most pet parents simply do not know they are potentially poisoning their pets and causing long-term health issues. Continue to direct them to blogs and websites that will help them learn.
Most pet owners do not know that they can make food for their pets for very low cost, that would be much healthier. Even if they don’t want to prepare whole meals, just adding toppers of a few fresh meats and vegetables would improve food quality and improve health.
If anyone would like a supply of cards to hand out, let me know. The more people we educate, the more pets we can help.