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Which Companies Are Behind Your Pet’s Food?

Caveat Emptor – Buyer Beware
By Don Hanson, ACCBC, BFRAP, CDBC, CPDT-KA | Oct 01, 2019
Photo by: Debra Bell

As a pet food retailer, I am part of an industry that many believe, myself included, has a well-deserved reputation for being deceptive. Many companies practice “legal’ marketing practices that any well-informed consumer would find unsettling. Some of the schemes used in the pet food industry make me hang my head in shame. I try to make up for that by learning everything I can and providing people with factual information they need to feed their pets for optimal health. [FMI – http://bit.ly/GAKS_Nut_Phil]

In her book Dog Food Logic: Making Smart Decisions for Your Dog in an Age of Too Many Choices, author and animal nutritionist Linda Case states, “We find that more than 50 % of dog owners do not distinguish between the brand name of a food and the company that produces (owns) that brand. This confusion is not the fault of owners by any means, since it is in the best interest of large companies to keep consumers in the dark regarding exactly how many brands of food they produce and market.”

Before you even consider specific brands of food, it is essential that you understand the companies behind the pet food industry. I believe that if you want to do the best for your pet, this is information you need to know — caveat emptor.

Pet food is big business. According to data provided by Petfood Industry magazine, pet food companies had revenues of over $44 billion in 2018 for North America alone. Six companies, accounting for 106 different pet food brands, took in over $39 billion or 89.3% of all pet food revenue. It is essential to understand that all of those different brands you see advertised and on retail shelves may not be as different as they would have you believe.

Leading the list of multi-national conglomerates in the pet food business is Mars Petcare, part of the Mars Candy company. Mars accounted for 41.1% of all the pet food sold in North America across their 41 pet care brands. Those brands include: Cesar, Dreamies, Eukanuba, Greenies, IAMS, Nutro, Pedigree, Royal Canin, Royal Canin Veterinary Diets, Sheba, Temptations, Waltham, and Whiskas.

Another candy company, Nestlé Purina PetCare is in the second position at 29.9% market share with 30 brands. Pet food and treat brands owned by Nestlé include: Alpo, Bakers, Beggin’, Beneful, Beyond, Busy, Castor & Pollux, Cat Chow, Chef Michael’s, Deli-Cat, Dog Chow, Fancy Feast, Felix, Friskies, Frosty Paws, Gourmet, Just Right, Kit & Kaboodle, Mighty Dog, Moist & Meaty, Muse, Purina, Purina ONE, Purina Pro Plan, Pro Plan Veterinary Diets, Second Nature, T-Bonz, Waggin’ Train, and Zukes.

At the third position on the list is J.M Smuckers, the jam company. They are relatively new to the pet care industry, having purchased several companies over the past few years. Smuckers controls 6.6% of the pet food market in North America with 14 brands accounting for $2.9 billion in sales in 2018. Brands owned by Smucker’s include: 9 Lives, Canine Carry-Outs, Dad’s, Gravy Train, Kibble ‘n Bits, Meaty Bone, Meow Mix, Milk-Bone, Milo’s Kitchen, Natural Balance (Dick Van Patten), Nature’s Recipe, Pup-Peroni, Rachael Ray Nutrish, and Snausages.

Colgate-Palmolive, the toothpaste and dish soap conglomerate, owns Hill’s Pet Nutrition, also known as Science Diet, and is number 4 on the list. They control almost 5.3% of the North American market with four brands, accounting for $2.3 billion in sales for 2018. Their brands include; Science Diet, Prescription Diet, Ideal Balance, and Healthy Advantage.

Number five on the list is Diamond Pet Foods who make their own food but is primarily this high on the list because they are a co-packer and manufacture food for a wide variety of other companies that do not own their own manufacturing plant. They account for 3.4% of the North American Market with $1.5 billion in sales for 2018. Brands owned by Diamond include Diamond, Diamond Naturals, Diamond Naturals Grain-Free, Diamond Care, Nutra-Gold, Nutra-Gold Grain-Free, Nutra Nuggets Global, Nutra Nuggets US, Premium Edge, Professional, and Taste of the Wild. Brand names made for other companies were not disclosed.

Last on our list is General Mills, best known for brands like Cheerios, Pillsbury, and Betty Crocker. General Mills entered the pet food business in 2018 with the purchase of Blue Buffalo. That gives them almost 3% of the North American market with $1.3 billion in sales for 2018. Blue Buffalo currently has six brands: Life Protection, Freedom, Basics, Wilderness, Carnivora, and Natural Veterinary Diet.

You might think, well I eat food from all of these big companies and feed it to my children. What’s the harm in feeding it to my pet? The difference is that you probably consume a tiny percentage of food made by Mars, Nestlé, Smuckers, and General Mills, and it is not your primary source of nutrition. In many cases a pet’s entire diet may come from one of these companies.

 

Top 6 Pet Food Companies in North America - 2018 2018 SALES

COMPANY (million USD) % TOTAL

Mars Petcare Inc. 18,085.00 41.08%

Nestlé Purina PetCare 13,200.00 29.98%

J.M. Smucker 2,900.00 6.59%

Hill's Pet Nutrition 2,318.00 5.26%

Diamond Pet Foods 1,500.00 3.41%

General Mills (Blue Buffalo) 1,300.00 2.95%

Everyone Else 4,725.20 10.73%

TOTAL 44,028.20 100.00%

 

 

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Don Hanson is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop ( greenacreskennel.com ) in Bangor, ME where he has been helping people with their pets since 1995. He is a Bach Foundation Registered Animal Practitioner (BFRAP), Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC), Associate Certified Cat Behavior Consultant (ACCBC) and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA). Don is a member of the Pet Professional Guild (PPG) and is committed to PPG’s Guiding Principles and the Pain-Free, Force-Free, and Fear-Free training, management, and care of all pets. Don produces and co-hosts a weekly radio show and podcast, The Woof Meow Show, that airs on Z62 Retro Radio WZON (AM620) and WKIT 103.3-HD3 and is streamed at http://www.wzonam.com/ every Saturday at 9 AM. Podcasts of the show are available at http://woofmeowshow.libsyn.com/, the Apple Podcast app, and at Don’s blog: www.words-woofs-meows.com. The opinions in this post are those of Don Hanson.