On Tuesday, pet store Petco announced that it will be stopping the sale of dog and cat foods that contain artificial preservatives and flavoring. WXYZ reports that this change will take place at over 1,500 stores in the United States and Puerto Rico, as well as online. Petco’s CEO, Ron Coughlin, recently spoke with the Associated Press, elaborating on the topic.
“We are making sure we are always taking the nutritional high ground.”
This is the first move of its kind amid major retail pet stores, and Petco is leading the way. This comes at a time when natural pet food sales are on the rise, cites WXYZ. In fact, according to the American Pet Products Association, in the U.S., people spent over $69.5 billion on their pets just last year; this is a four percent increase from 2017. Data company Nielsen has stated that the American market growth for the sale of natural pet products has doubled by more than 6.5 percent between the years 2013 and 2017 alone. That same company has also stated that there has been a 29 percent increase in the sales of pet food that is free of genetically modified ingredients, as cited by WXYZ.
According to John Owen, a senior food analyst for market researcher Mintel, as human tastes get more sophisticated, their demands for a high quality pet food also goes up. He states that the sale of pet food frequently mimics that of human food, and uses the example of Gravy Train dog food being introduced in 1959 to get his point across; Gravy Train dog food was released so that dogs could enjoy gravy the same as their owners.
There has been a fast growing trend toward natural dog and cat foods, with some bags of each even going so far as to be vegetarian and grain-free based. Dog food with kibble made from deer and wild boar is on the market, and for cats there is a variety of tilapia, rabbit, and pumpkin.
J.M. Smucker Co. and General Mills have sensed this trend and have already spent copious amounts of money to acquire their very own natural pet food brands, Nutrish and Blue Buffalo, just earlier this year.
According to Coughlin, Petco eventually plans to expand their ban of artificial pet foods beyond cats and dogs, encompassing other animals as well. He has remarked that certain suppliers are now reformulating their food, while others will simply not be selling through Petco anymore.
All foods that contain artificial ingredients that have not been sold by May will be donated to various animal shelters, said Coughlin.