Pet Food Field Trip to Walmart

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by Susan Thixton

I took a food to yesterday. It was a discouraging visit. I won’t mention any by name – but the trip provided me with some valuable pet food sales tricks to share with you.

The number one interesting marketing technique – and I have changed the exact words to protect the identity of this pet food (gotta play nice)…Blazoned across one pet food was Crunchy Beefy Nuggets. Did you catch it? Crunchy Beefy Nuggets is a trademark name (little TM after the Nuggets) – it’s a name! It has nothing to do with the pet food – it is literally just a name. Very slick.

The most frequent pet food sales trick I found was ‘Flavored’. The actual names of the pet foods were ‘Steak and Vegetable Flavor’ or ‘Chicken and Fish Flavor’ – one pet food got very specific with ‘Albacore Tuna and Yellow Fin Tuna Flavor’. The sales trick is that the pet foods are just FLAVORED with steak or tuna – the foods don’t actually have steak or tuna in them. Most pet owners have been programmed by pet food marketing to not catch that trick. FLAVORED means just that – the pet food is just flavored by tuna or steak – which doesn’t mean much in the way of nutrition for the pet.

One of the Walmart pet foods stated ‘No Fillers’ on the front of the bag. However in the ingredient list I found Ground Corn, Chicken by-products, Corn Gluten Meal to be the first three ingredients of the pet food. That reads like fillers to me!

Another pet food bragged ‘New Shapes and ’. Dyes are controversial and provide no nutritional value to the pet.

One of the pet foods stated it contained Protein and Phosphorus for Strong Muscles. According to Wikipedia the definition of phosphorus is as follows: “The most important commercial use of phosphorus-based chemicals is the production of fertilizers. Phosphorus compounds are also widely used in explosives, nerve agents, friction matches, fireworks, pesticides, toothpaste, and detergents. Among other uses these are used to improve the characteristics of processed meat and cheese.” Doesn’t sound like something to brag about to me!

I found many pet foods with pictures of steak and chicken and fish on the front of the bags or cans, but I didn’t find many pet foods with steak or chicken or fish inside the bag or can. Unfortunately I did find many pet foods with BHA and BHT (chemical preservatives linked to cancer), Animal Fat (FDA determined to be the pet food ingredient most likely to contain euthanized including the euthanizing drug), and Dyes (only benefits the pet owner – has no nutritional benefit to the pet).

I left the Walmart pet food aisle feeling discouraged. During my 20 minute or so visit about five or six customers came into the pet food aisle and added a bag of pet food to their cart. I didn’t stop them or offer any suggestions – which was very difficult for me knowing what they were taking home to their pet. I understand that every pet owner cannot afford to purchase a $25 or higher bag of pet food – but no pet owner should spend a dime on pet foods that contain by-products, meat and bone meals, and BHA/BHT (or other chemical preservatives). Please read the labels of your pet’s food and treats – learn the truth about pet food.

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