On Sunday January 17th, AAFCO provided consumer representatives the opportunity to tell industry (and regulatory authorities) what consumers want from ingredient definitions and on pet food labels. Based on your input, this is the presentation that we gave.
Below are the slides presented and my script from the presentation.
Dr. Jean Hofve and I posted a survey on Facebook to gather some data for you guys – about 500 pet food consumers participated. Of these consumers – 52% had dogs, 19% cats and 33% had both cats and dogs.
Of the dog owners – 48% feed kibble, 17% feed commercial raw, 13% make their own pet food, 5% feed can, and 3% feed commercial cooked. I was very surprised that 13% made their own food – that’s a very significant amount that I hope you pay attention to. The main reason people make their own pet food – is because they lost trust in commercial pet food.
Of the cat owners that participated in our survey, 48% feed kibble, 23% can, 14% commercial raw, 10% make their own pet food, and less than ½% feed commercial cooked.
The next question we asked – Do you stick to one pet food or do you feed a variety? 36% told us they feed multiple brands. The thing I hope you take from this, is 1/3 of consumers – by feeding multiple brands of pet foods – could easily move away from your brand if they lose trust in your company.
How do pet owners select a pet food? These are the two most popular responses – they do their own research and they look at ingredients.
How do consumers determine the quality of a pet food? 45% consult others that rate brands and 40% do their own research. Both of these actions of consumers are things out of your control. They are not getting what they want from you – they are trusting others and their own research for information.
How helpful is the pet food label? 47% said ‘somewhat’ – 11% said not at all – 3% doesn’t even read the label.
For those that read the pet food label, they find the Ingredient list, the back of the package and the guaranteed analysis the most helpful.
Do you think you can get a good idea of quality just from looking at the ingredients? 45% said No – 17% said they weren’t sure.
Do you understand the names of the ingredients? Only 24% said yes.
If they don’t understand what a pet food ingredient is – how do they find that information? 62% look it up on the Internet. We all know that everything we find on the Internet is consistent and true – right? I hope this tells everyone that there is a significant need to put pet food ingredient definitions – the legal definitions – in the public domain. Either on the AAFCO website or on the FDA website. Without the legal definitions of pet food ingredients being easily accessible public information – there will be a dramatic variety of ingredient definitions out there. That variety of information causes a lot of problems – not just for consumer advocates – but for manufacturers too.
This one I hope tells you something…If you see a picture of a certain food on the label, do you believe it accurately reflects the ingredients? 38% said they doubted it, 40% said No. So…if you are putting an image of grilled chicken on your label when the chicken isn’t grilled – 78% of the consumers out there – at least those that participated in our survey and granted they are an educated consumer – are immediately losing trust in your product with that image. They don’t believe the picture, they lose trust. They lose trust – you’ve lost a customer.
The next few slides are some of the messages consumers wanted to tell you –
Here’s a review of what you are up against in gaining and keeping a customer –a significant portion of consumers have completely lost faith in commercial pet food and are making their own, many feed multiple brands and could drop you in an instant if they believe you have betrayed their trust, many more are not believing pet food marketing and are actively doing their own research to determine what brand to trust.
What do Consumers want from pet food manufacturers and regulators? They want pet food ingredient definitions in common language they can understand – it is very important to note – they want to understand. They want to know how the pet food and the ingredient is made and they want to be told about every processing aid or additive used. They want to know where it’s made. They want to be provided with the science to why you are using this ingredient – why you believe the ingredient is safe. They want to know the quality of the pet food or ingredient – is it food or feed grade, is the meat grass fed or antibiotic free and everything else you can tell them about the quality. They want to know if the ingredient includes GMOs. They want to know the country of origin of all ingredients. They don’t want to be marketed to – given a sales pitch –they want information.
You give them information – the information they want, you are building consumer trust. When you have their trust, you have a customer.
The presentation seemed to be very well received. Several attendees thanked us for the presentation. Fingers crossed they will take the information to heart.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
What’s in Your Pet’s Food?
Is your dog or cat eating risk ingredients? Chinese imports? Petsumer Report tells the ‘rest of the story’ on over 3000 cat foods, dog foods, and pet treats. 30 Day Satisfaction Guarantee. www.PetsumerReport.com
The 2016 List
Susan’s List of trusted pet foods. Click Here
Have you read Buyer Beware? Click Here
Cooking for pets made easy, Dinner PAWsible
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The 2019 List of Pet Foods I would trust to feed my own pets