Adventures in Pet Food

Debbie Phillips-Donaldson, editor-in-chief of Petfood Industry, shares her insights and opinions on all things pet food, addressing market trends as well as news and developments in pet nutrition, food safety and other hot topics for the industry.

FDA: get your petfood safety facts straight

"Most petfood is safe, but sometimes petfood and treats can become contaminated with bacteria that can not only make your pet sick, but you sick." That's one of the first few statements in a video recently released by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) called "Pet Food and Treats in Your Home." The narrator, Dr. April Hodges a nutritional scientist with FDA, goes on to say, "Salmonella is one of the best known bacteria that can be found in petfood or on pet treats, but it's not the only one." OK, stop right there, Dr. Hodges. 
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US petfood ingredient regulatory process faces uncertain future

One of most common questions I get from media and people outside our industry is about how petfoods and ingredients are regulated, particularly in the US. This has been a recurring question ever since the 2007 melamine-related recalls and continuing through more recent Salmonella-related recalls, passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and, most recently, the release of proposed preventive control rules for feed and petfood under FSMA.
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Petfood, human food industries get proactive with new GMO coalition

A new US coalition aims to get ahead of GMO related legislation, uncertainty and confusion – and, while not the first of its kind, this effort directly involves petfood and feed organizations, in addition to human food groups. The Coalition for Safe Affordable Food (CSAF), announced last week, currently comprises 31 organizations, including the Pet Food Institute (PFI), American Feed Industry Association and National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA).
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Petfood companies need to define sustainability for their markets

In yet another trends list for the year (and yes, I’m guilty of issuing one of those lists, too), Leslie May, founder of Pawsible Marketing, identifies one of the top trends for the pet industry as “quality, healthy, made in the US, green, eco-friendly.” Whew! That one trend covers a lot of ground. But I agree with May that the general concept that pet owners increasingly are seeking pet products, including petfood, that they believe are healthier for their pets and the planet.
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Petfood volume flat in 2013, new feed survey shows

The volume of petfood produced globally in 2013 grew less than 1% over 2012, from 20.5 million tons to 20.7 million, according to the just released 2014 Alltech Global Feed Survey. That's slightly less than the 1% growth reported for production of feed for all species, from 954 million tons in 2012 to 963 million in 2013. Petfood makes up only about 2% of that global total.
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First petfood M&A deal of 2014 portends more to come

The petfood and pet care industries have been a hotbed of merger and acquisition (M&A) activity for several years now; in fact, even during the recession, that activity picked up, unlike in most other industries. Thus, last week's announcement that Nestlé Purina PetCare had acquired Zuke's Performance Pet Nutrition, a maker of natural, functional treats, came as no real surprise to anyone in or watching our industry.
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Petfood quality, pet health top purchasing drivers, mirroring human food trends

A new survey of dog owners by a UK-based pet supplies website shows the quality of petfood outweighs costs for many pet parents, echoing ongoing premiumization in the US petfood market and mirroring purchasing drivers for human food. Conducted online by GJW Titmuss from October to December 2013 and responded to by 675 dog owners, the survey showed 61% of the owners consider quality the most important factor when choosing a dog food, versus only 9% choosing cost. 
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Media perpetuating petfood safety myths, misconceptions

Another day/month/year, another media report on petfood safety with misleading, out-of-context or downright inaccurate information. Since the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released the proposed preventive control rule for animal feed (including petfood) in late October as part of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), it's been big news throughout mainstream media. Unfortunately, it's difficult to see how some of the news being disseminated is at all helpful to pet owners, let alone the petfood industry.
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Looking into the 2014 petfood crystal ball

I don't really have a crystal ball (and I probably wouldn't trust it if I had one). Nor can I claim to predict, with full confidence, what will happen in the global petfood industry next year. But I can make a fairly informed speculation about the issues and events that may affect petfood in 2014. In no particular order of conviction or chronology:
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