The Ever Changing, Ultra Confusing Pet Food Industry
by Larry Jandrew
It seems every day brings some kind of change to the Pet Food Industry, making it extremely difficult for consumers to know what is happening to the pet foods they use.
Large corporations such as Nestle, M&M Mars, and Smackers continue to buy out other pet food companies. M&M Mars (Mars Petcare) just recently purchased all the pet food companies owned by Proctor & Gamble (Iams, Eukanuba, Innova, California Natural, Evo). This purchase, plus the other companies they already own, (Nutro, Pedigree, Whiskas, Royal Canin, Cesar, Kitekat, Sheba, Chappi, Frolic, Perfect Fit, Greenies, and Benfield Vet Services), makes them one of the world’s largest pet care companies. If you buy any of them, you may want to know how this may affect you in the future.
With 41 brands there is much product duplication. Some are mostly grocery store and big box store brands that seem to come and go according to sales levels. Once brands stop performing they are eliminated, either by the manufacturer or the retailer.
Other products, i.e. Nutri, Innova, and Eukanuba, are higher quality, although very similar to each other. This duplication basically means limited brand growth. So what will probably happen is that some brands will be eliminated. Mars has already announced the termination of the Innova line, and the elimination of several distributors. They are basically going with two distributors nationwide.
In my opinion this is a recipe for disaster. One surviving distributor does not currently carry all the Mars products, so will have to add the remaining brands. And this will have to be done while trying to keep the retail channels supplied and trying to figure out their own inventory levels. Out of stocks will probably be high, and during the changeover, current suppliers will be letting their inventory sell down before the new distributors gear up. This means you may not be able to get your pets’ favorite foods. And more eliminations are inevitable.
This creates a consumer problem. It is difficult and time consuming to follow all the changes. It takes time to figure out which company owns what brands. It also creates questions. When one company buys out another, is it changing the formulas or buying practices?
Most times, little changes in the first year. But then we generally see significant changes to the products of the acquired company. Sometimes for the better, but more often for the benefit of the acquiring company. Any change in your pet’s food is important information. That’s why Pet Source is adding a site to its web page that lists most of the pet foods and the companies that own them. The additional information will help give you a more secure feeling about what you feed your best friend. For more, visit www.petsourcenc.com or call (828) 698-6910.
Larry Jandrew has owned Pet Source since 1999, been in the pet industry for 35 years, and worked closely with most of the pet food companies.