So, you say you feed your pet a top-quality natural dog food made by a small natural pet food company that uses only the highest quality ingredients? You might want to check again. Mass-marketing pet food giants are buying up more and more of those natural pet food companies.
And, these industry giants are becoming adept at hiding their acquisitions. They often continue to market the food under the name of the original natural pet food company, without any mention that the pet food giant is now at the helm. And, don’t rely on the label to let you know when the content has been changed either. Pet food manufacturers often are permitted to use up existing labels and packaging before switching to updated labels. Is it possible that natural pet food manufacturers stock up on labels and packaging as part of the acquisition deal? The best place to review the current pet food label is at the manufacturer’s website and not on the package itself.
One reason mass-marketing pet food giants are buying up natural pet food companies is because of the 15% compound annual growth rate over the 2010-2014 period in the natural pet food market. Here is an example of a series of acquisitions: Merrick Pet Care is a leader in the super premium pet food category, focusing on holistic, all-natural ingredients. Its three brands are Merrick, Before Grain, and Whole Earth Farms. In 2012, Merrick Pet Care, Inc acquired Castor & Pollux Natural PetWorks, a privately held natural and organic pet food business, whose ORGANIX product line was the first certified organic dog and cat food to meet USDA standards. Other Castor & Pollux products include Natural Ultramix and Good Buddy. In July 2015, Nestle Purina announced that it will acquire Merrick Pet Care and that Merrick will continue to act as an independent business unit. This means that Merrick will keep its name on its products and Nestle Purina’s involvement will be in the background.
Where do these acquisitions leave the pet owner? Ultimately, perhaps, with fewer options. Questions remain as to the impact on food quality.