It’s a good question, because the mainstream pet food industry keeps the public in the dark about what actually goes into pet food (and it’s often impossible to tell by looking at the food itself, whether it’s dried pellets or canned meat).
The food we sell costs more than many foods on the market for some very basic reasons. Here are a few:
- They are not made from diseased animals.
- They don’t contain inedible fillers like peanut shells and the hulls swept up from grain mill floors.
- Their ingredients are specifically identified (no “meat and bone meal,” for example, which could be any species at all).
- To the best of our ability they are sourced from ethical and humane conditions, for the animals and the people working to harvest and process the fish, meat, and vegetables that go into the food.
When a company representative come to our store to pitch their new food we ask a lot of tough questions, and expect clear answers.
We will also stop selling a food that has lost our trust. This most often happens when independent companies are purchased by large corporations who are not focused on providing healthy pet food, but are focused on using pet food as a small part of their supply chain.
Two of the most recent stories that illustrate these points (in different directions) concern Weruva and Merrick, two popular canned food lines that we’ve carried for many years.
Weruva sources and packages it’s fish in Thailand. While the waters off Thailand have traditionally considered some of the healthiest for ocean fish stocks, unethical fishing practices that also include slave labor on the boats have made it even more important to have the facts. There is also the general concern about sourcing food products from so far away.
From our very first meeting with Weruva they have been open and accountable, ready to talk about how their fish are caught and prepared, and the conditions of the workers in their Thai facilities. They are one of the few companies that address these serious issues openly on their website and when asked by customers and retailers.
Weruva’s products aren’t cheap, but that’s because they don’t cut corners, and as a result they produce a food that you could eat yourself (yes, the writer has tasted their cat food, the only time she’s done so through all the years in this industry).
We have carried Merrick canned foods and chew treats for many years, and they have always been popular. We stopped carrying many of their chew treats when they started irradiating them, but continued with their canned foods because they were so palatable and popular, and because they were made start-to-finish in the U.S. by the company themselves. Like many other companies, though, they grew larger and larger, and were sold to Nestle. Other examples of these kinds of sales: Natural Balance is owned by Smuckers (note how this is hidden through an additional layer of brand packaging), Zukes is owned by Nestle, and Natura is owned by Mars (after being purchased by Proctor & Gamble).
In our experience these sales to huge multinationals results in a lowering of quality and in many cases an increase in recalls due to poor manufacturing oversight, usually within two years of the sale. We simply don’t believe that these companies have our pet’s best interest at heart.
Don’t expect to find Merrick in our stores for much longer, and as always, we’re on the look-out for new and better products for your pets.
One of our newest foods, Open Farm, really goes the extra mile to ensure that their products are ethically produced, providing third-party humane certification for their source farms.
And of course many of our raw food companies respond to these issues as well, especially our regional companies like Smallbatch, Halshan, and our own Dexter’s Naturals.
We want our customers to know that we pay attention to the ethical treatment of not only your pets, but also the animals raised to feed them and the people employed to make the products.
We believe that knowing what your pet is eating is worth the extra cost.