A look inside the Global Pet Food industry (Part 1)
In recent blogs, we've focused on the benefits of feeding raw and the truth about kibble, and have received a great response! Over the next couple of weeks we'll be focusing on the global pet food industry - it's a big topic so we've had to split it in two...
Setting the Scene
Over the last ten years, we've started to become more aware of what's in our food, and the impact this has on our minds and bodies. Recently, we've also started to realise the same rules stand for our animal companions.
Awareness of the natural, raw dog food diet is steadily growing and scientific evidence of the health benefits is mounting.
On the other hand, dry kibble is being linked to a huge range of health issues, including:
- Heart disease
- Allergies (skin & digestive)
- Early-onset arthritis
- Tooth decay
The decreased vet bills alone compensate for the slightly higher cost of feeding raw!
Why then is this mass-produced dry food so prominent both in our collective conscious and on shelves?
Well, you've probably heard this before....follow the money!
The global pet care industry is big business:
- Sales for all pet products & services totalled $128.7 billion (yes..billion) in 2016
- Dry dog food was the largest portion of this, accounting for $37.5 billion
- In Australia alone, spending in the pet care industry amounted to $12.5 billion last year
A quick glance at these figures show the huge riches available and why those in the industry are so keen to protect it. But who are they?
Worldwide, we've seen a marked shift away from highly processed human foods - those full of sugar, refined carbohydrates, fats, salts and empty calories. Packaging, naming and labelling requirements are much more transparent for human food as compared to dog food though.
You would expect the companies behind our premium dog food brands to be those invested in pet care as a core business wouldn't you?
The crazy fact is that 50% of the Australian dog food market is made up of two companies.
...two companies who specialise in confectionery, junk food and household goods.
If you don't believe us, take a look!
Mars, Incorporated owns:
- Royal Cannin
- My Dog
- Purina (incl. Beyond, Dog Chow, ONE, Pro Plan, Veterinary Diets)
- Lucky Dog
The other big player in Australia is Hill's Pet Nutrition, an Amercan subsidiary of Colgate-Palmolive. Hills' focuses are the ScienceTM and PrescriptionTM diets. It turns out, if you trademark some reassuring words (no actual evidence necessary) it makes us trust you more!
(Note: if your brand isn't mentioned above, don't rest easy just yet - as there are some others we'll be looking at next week because they deserve even closer attention).
With loosely self-regulated naming standards, the pet food industry allows the dice to be loaded heavily against the customer. We recently went to have a look at the ingredients list for some of the largest brands, and almost had to put our detectives hat on to find them!
Hidden in the creases on one side of the package, we managed to find an ingredients list.
While chicken was listed as the "number 1 source of protein" on the front of this premium mix...it constituted only 16% of the total ingredients. This was closely followed by wheat, and then a long list including various beef by-products, un-named animals fats, and long chemically-named sugar substitutes.
Whatever way you look at it, commercial dog food is simply waste by-proucts of the human food industry - a really intelligent way for companies to profit from their own garbage!!
A few common labelling tricks include:
- Not being required to state the carboydrate (nutitionally useless) content...with some brands being up to 75% carbohydrates
- Grain-free usually just meaning they've substituted wheat with another starch, such as potatoes
- Concerns about corn? No problem, they'll call it maize instead
- Meat 'by-products' can legally include diseased tissues, organs and even tumours
They don't want us reading the back of the packaging. So, they do a really good job of drawing us into what's on the front:
- Appealing pictures of real meats and vegetables that bear absolutely no resemblance to the pellets of kibble inside (cue loose regulation)
- Ingredients given most focus generally only making up a fraction of the actual content
- Reassuring but meaningless words such as premium, balanced, complete, sensitive, natural and even ancestral!
Any move to review this is met with objections around consumer 'choice' and 'individual responsibility'. And we whole heartedly support this - it is absolutely our responsibility to start understanding what's in our dog's food and the harm it is doing to them!
So what can you do?
At CDK9 Raw it's pretty simple - we list everything contained in our products in simple terms so you can see exactly what's in your doggy's diet. Compared to dry food, which has an average of 37.5% protein, our mixes are based on the 80 : 10 : 10 mode of feeding - 80% meat, 10% offal (5% liver, 5% other offal) and 10% bone.
We guaranetee our food has no preservatives, hormones, grains or fillers. We're more than just a dog food company - we're dog lovers and we're here to challenge the beliefs about what's best to feed our canine companions. Give them the best - raw!
Next time: in Part 2, we'll be exploring how 'Pet Inc.' use underhanded games to forge powerful alliances with the people we should be able to trust the most with our dog's health. You may be surprised with just how far they will go to spread misinformation.