Articles by Debbie Phillips-Donaldson

Something to Chew On: Food for thought

During Global Pets Forum, experts presented trends in human foods, health and technology that could play out in petfood, too
In January I was privileged to attend Global Pets Forum, an annual conference organized by Pets International magazine ( This year’s event was in Barcelona, Spain, and drew about 200 pet industry professionals, mainly from Europe but also from all other continents.
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Something to Chew On: Doing well by doing good for pets

Like companies in other industries, petfood makers find embracing a cause is good for the bottom line as well as the soul
Recently a newspaper reporter called seeking information for an article he was researching on corporate social responsibility in the pet industry. One of his questions was whether petfood companies participate in community programs and charitable causes.
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Something to Chew On: Presaging consumer behavior for 2011

Market research firms look into their crystal balls and identify consumer trends that might have important implications for our industry
For better or worse, I’m not one to make New Year’s resolutions, and I find most lists predicting what will happen in the coming year to be fairly trite and, well, predictable. (Sorry, bad pun.) But I do pay attention to ones from market research firms like Packaged Facts and Mintel, because I think they identify consumer trends that have important implications for our industry.
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Something to Chew On: Making the case for pets

More and more experts think the benefits to humans of owning pets can be quantified and backed by scientific research
Those of us who love, live with and/or work with pets know intuitively the many benefits they bring to people. But can those benefits be quantified and backed by sound, scientific research?
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Something to Chew On: Joining the App revolution

Petfood Industry is launching an App for the iPhone and iPad. Should you be doing the same for your brand?
Once upon a time, not all that long ago, a mobile phone did what its name said: It let users talk on the phone while on the move, away from the house or office. Soon most of these phones gained the capability to also send text messages, take photos and play music. And now more and more people around the world have so-called smart phones.
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Overby Farm takes pet treats to the next level

This small family business prepares to introduce innovative, functional formulations beyond its signature cherry products
A growing body of research shows that in humans, tart cherries can act as an antioxidant and help people suffering from various conditions and forms of inflammation. “Our family found relief from arthritis and gout through cherry concentrate, and that got the ball rolling,” says Carol Jones-Adams, describing how her functional treat company, Overby Farm, was born.
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Brown lab eating dry pet kibble from bowl

Update: measuring petfood palatability

New ways key palatability companies are conducting and improving testing
Palatability has become as important to petfood formulation as the core ingredients. After all, those ingredients can’t provide nutritional benefits if pets won’t eat the food or, perhaps more importantly, their owners don’t perceive the pets are enjoying the food. Thus, leading organizations invest heavily in research and work to ensure they can accurately measure the palatability of various formulations and flavor enhancers.
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Something to Chew On: Consumers no longer a captive, passive audience

Much of the media coverage of petfood safety and recalls has sprung from heightened interest by consumers
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has posted an online FAQ about the recent spate of Salmonella-related petfood recalls online FAQ. I for one am glad to see it and especially gratified that the very first entry attributes the rise in recent incidents to increased awareness, renewed vigilance by petfood companies and regulatory authorities and the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Reportable Food Registry.
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Nature’s Variety makes petfood with a purpose

The maker of raw and holistic diets seeks to help transform pets through its products, philosophy, education and research
A brand should have a purpose, a reason for being, says Erin Mulligan Nelson, VP/chief marketing officer for Dell computers, in an article for Advertising Age. “It should make a difference in the world in some way.”
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