Origen: The Future of Pet Food? – Part 1
I have the empty pet food bags from Orijen’s dry cat food and dry dog food in front of me, and I am pleased by what I see.
As someone who spent 14 years in sales & marketing for AT&T, I can attest to the fact that neither sales nor marketing are about transparency and truth. In 2017 an estimated $29.69 BILLION was spent on retail pet food sales in the US. 70% of the market is controlled by five vendors: Nestle, Mars, Big Heart, Colgate and Blue Buffalo. With so much money at stake, and with a gruesome history of consumer fraud and deceptive, harmful practices, it is no surprise that so few pet foods honestly and accurately describe the contents being sold. Instead, they rely on the public consumer’s lack of knowledge, gullibility, and—dare I say it— laziness—in learning about the food they feed their animal companions.
Things are changing, but oh-so-slowly. Meanwhile, the pet food industry just comes up with sneakier ways to deceive the public. The latest scam involves claims of “grain free,” but that is a topic for another day.
Instead of focusing on the bad guys, I thought it would be a good lesson to look at an example of marketing by one of the apparent good guys.
There is currently no law that penalizes a company for product misinformation on a website, but actual packaging is different. So packaging is the first place to look for information about pet food.
Champion Petfoods, the manufacturer of “Orijen,” does so many things right it is difficult to know where to begin. There is a message from the founder of the company, and the packaging proudly displays photos of local farmers and the state-of-the-art kitchens where the food is made. Special attention on the front and back of the bag is focused on the meat content and its source. Chickens are local free-range(not caged), and eggs are nest-laid, not factory-farmed. Flounder, mackerel and herring are wild-caught, not farm-raised. “Whole prey” refers to poultry(chicken and turkey) organs and cartilage. None of the ingredients is “rendered.” The food is described as “biologically appropriate,” regionally sourced, and no part of the processing or handling is outsourced. Orijen lists all the ingredients on the back of the bag, not inside the side crease or bottom. The first 15 ingredients are animal protein. With few exceptions, the remaining ingredients are natural, nothing synthetic.
And there are no soy, corn or wheat products with Monsanto pesticides inside.
On the front of the dog food, 85% of the bag consists of poultry, fish and eggs, and the other 15% consists of vegetables, fruits and botanicals. On the cat and kitten food the bag states that 90% of the contents consist of poultry, fish and eggs, and 10% consists of vegetables, fruits and botanicals. No grains, potatoes, tapioca or plant protein. (Cats are obligatory carnivores not vegans, meaning they must eat animal protein, NOT plant or pea protein).
In a 4.5 lb bag of dog food, 3.75 lbs consist of fresh raw or dehydrated animal ingredients broken down as follows: 1.75 lb chicken, 1 lb turkey, ¼ lb yellowtail, ¼ lb whole nest-laid eggs, 1/3 lb wild Atlantic mackerel, and 1/3 lb wild Atlantic. Crude protein is 38%, appropriate for dogs.
In a 4 lb bag of cat and kitten food, 3.66 lbs consist of 1.75 lb chicken meat, organs and & cartilage, ¾ lb consists of turkey, organs and cartilage, ¼ lb wild yellowtail flounder, ¼ lb whole, nest-laid eggs, 1/3 lb wild Atlantic mackerel, and 1/3 lb wild Atlantic herring. Crude protein is 40%, appropriate for cats.
The only thing I would like to see is Non-GMO and Organic ingredients.
The company’s website is impressive, and the marketing for all its products—there are many—aligns with its mission statement and the company’s actions wanting to maintain the integrity of its product.*** Orijen is no longer available through Chewy.com since PetSmart bought out Chewy in July 2017. In fact, Champion Petfoods supports independent specialty animal supply stores by restricting the sale of its products through those stores. The dream of every manufacturer is to sell its products through the big outlets such as PetSmart, PetCo and Amazon.com to sell more product. Even though Champion sells its food to international markets, it claims to limit production in order to maintain quality-control, an admirable ideal.
There were some consumer concerns when the company changed its production facilities to Kentucky from Canada. I have reached out to Champion Petfoods to find out more. I will report on their response next month.
Before you rush out and buy Champion Petfoods, I received additional information about Champion’s troubles in Australia in 2008 and their decision to continue to sell pet food that the Australian government required to be irradiated. Part 2 will explain this in detail along with Champion’s shocking behavior.
Not all that glitters is gold.
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