One of the revelations resulting from the massive 2007 pet food recall was that many different brands of dog and cat food are made by a few large corporations. When news first broke that Pet Food Brand A, found to be contaminated with melamine, was sickening and killing family companions, many owners felt their pets were safe because they were feeding Pet Food Brand B or C or whatever. As the facts slowly escaped, despite a massive cover up effort by pet food manufacturers, consumers learned that the melamine used in A was also used in making B, C, and a host of other brands. Then no one felt safe.
Since then, the corporations have tightened their grip on the market. J.M. Smucker announced this month it was purchasing Big Heart Pet Brands (formerly Del Monte Foods) whose products include Meow Mix and Kibbles ‘n Bits. And it’s big business:
The nation’s pet-food sales have nearly doubled since 2000, to more than $22 billion last year, American Pet Products Association data show.
Smucker expects pet food will contribute more to its bottom line than Jif, Pillsbury, Crisco and its namesake jams and jellies, combined.
Iams and Eukanuba were bought by Mars in 2014. (Iams was key in forcing news of the massive melamine poisoning in 2007 to go public.) While there are some smaller companies left, they represent a tiny portion of the market:
About 93 percent of the mid-priced dog and cat food sold in North America goes to only three companies: Big Heart, Mars and Nestle, the giant behind Purina, Dreyer’s ice cream and Hot Pockets.
If you buy mid-range pet food, chances are very high that it is manufactured by one of these three megabrands. Do you feel confident that Smucker, Mars and Nestle are making the health and safety of your pet a high priority? Do you trust these corporations to swiftly issue a recall when faced with sufficient evidence of toxic ingredients in their pet foods? Do you feel consumers are in a better position to protect their pets from poisoned pet food today than they were in 2007?