By Dr. Becker
Lately, a real head-scratcher for the processed pet food industry has been: why does that pesky little raw pet food market continue to grow, despite all our best efforts to denigrate and defile it, and drive consumers away from it?
A few months ago, a pet food industry trade journal listed just the most recent efforts to scare people away from raw pet food:
- In June 2014, Colorado State University veterinarians came out against feeding pets raw diets, citing increased risks for contamination and the dangers of nutritionally imbalanced diets.
- The next month, the FDA presented warnings of its own, highlighting the possibility for food poisoning in both pets and their owners.
- The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)’s current policy on raw or undercooked animal-source protein in pet food “discourages the feeding to cats and dogs of any animal-source protein that has not first been subjected to a process to eliminate pathogens because of the risk of illness to cats and dogs as well as humans.”
If you haven’t read the articles at the above links, I encourage you to do so for a better understanding of why the usual objections to raw pet diets make absolutely no sense.
Raw Pet Food Sales Suggest Scare Tactics Aren’t Working
PetfoodIndustry.com concedes that when it comes to commercial raw pet food, “Whatever the controversy, there’s no doubting these categories are on the rise in the industry.”
Here’s how some of the numbers shake out:
- “Premium” pet food grew 9.2 percent from 2011 to 2012, and 6.5 percent from 2012 to 2013.
- Freeze-dried pet foods have grown 74 percent since the first quarter of 2012.
- Grain-free products grew 64 percent in the same timeframe (Q1 2012).
- The refrigerated pet food market has also grown steadily over the last few years. Sales in 2011 were $34 million, jumping to $92 million in 2013.
The article also discusses the ways in which some raw pet food companies are expanding their product lines to meet rising consumer demand for higher-quality, species-appropriate pet diets.
Together, We’re Changing the Face of the Pet Food Industry
The journal article concludes with this observation:
“Whether pet food companies have been in the raw segment for years or are just now entering the market, it’s clear that they all see the same thing—the niche is continuing to grow, and stands as a promising opportunity for those looking to expand their pet food reach.”
As the old saying goes, Money talks. Where there’s consumer demand, the market finds a way to supply it. As increasing numbers of nutrition-savvy pet guardians, veterinarians, and other animal advocates request whole, fresh, real food for dogs and cats, the more the pet food industry will attempt to meet the demand.
Of course, some commercial pet foods will always stand out above the rest when it comes to quality and sourcing of ingredients. That’s why we must remain vigilant in our efforts to ignore marketing hype and make smart choices when selecting food for our pets. But overall, I anticipate the fast-growing trend toward fresh and raw diets will translate to a big win in terms of the health, vitality, and longevity of our much-loved furry companions.