Pet food trade organization PetFoodIndustry.com, recently published an article on the misinterpretations of consumers and media regarding the ‘human grade’ claim of pet foods. PetFoodIndustry.com editor-in-chief Debbie Phillips-Donaldson says that the ‘real problem is media and others anthropomorphizing pets.’
Ms. Phillips-Donaldson states “It’s not uncommon for media and others to see certain marketing terms and trends with petfood — such as humanization — and interpret them literally. And therein lies the real problem… anthropomorphizing pets.”
Anthropomorphism – “Attribution of human motivation, characteristics, or behavior to inanimate objects, animals, or natural phenomena.” In other words, Ms. Phillips-Donaldson doesn’t believe it is appropriate for media and others (assuming by others she means pet owners) to humanize pets. But more significantly it seems Ms. Phillips-Donaldson is saying that we shouldn’t interpret pet food marketing terms literally. I couldn’t agree more (with the latter).
As example, here are the names of two Science Diet cat foods…(which by the way, Science Diet told me they are no longer manufacturing however they are still listed on the Science Diet website)
Culinary Creations Baked Ocean Fish Dinner Cat Food
Do you think that ocean fish is actually ‘baked’ before it is put in the can? Or how about that roasted beef, was the meat actually roasted? Or are these terms simply catering to ‘others’ with anthropomorphism tendencies? The answer, according to Science Diet Representative Tammy is “No”. The fish is not baked and the beef is not roasted; these are marketing terms.
Ms. Phillips-Donaldson is right, we should not take terms listed on a pet food label literally. But what a shame that is. Thanks to regulations that do not allow a clear understanding of what is inside that bag or can of pet food, we are forced to not believe anything on a pet food label.
Ms. Phillips-Donaldson admits humanization of pets has “been good for our industry and the overall pet care industry.” But I have to wonder if those that simply market to the humanization of pets will soon fall behind those that actually provide human quality (ingredient) products for pets? I certainly hope so.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
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