One of you pesky educated pet parents out there (thank you!) sent me an interesting video of the goings on at the Pet Food Forum being held in Chicago (you know, the event they wouldn’t let me attend). The video, of Melissa Brookshire with North River Enterprises – a pet food industry consulting group – states that pet food forums are “not necessarily presenting accurate information” about pet food companies. We talk too much.
The video is linked below…here is the conversation of the video…
We’re here at pet food forum with Melissa Brookshire director of North River Enterprises who’s speaking on consumer brand perception for pet food companies. Melissa, can you tell us where consumers are getting their perception of pet food?
Yes, unfortunately many consumers are getting their perception of pet food not from companies themselves but from other online forums and online sources that are not necessarily presenting accurate information
And one of those sources you mentioned were pet food rating sites, can you tell us a little bit about pet food rating sites?
There are about ten to fifteen rating sites that are highly visited by pet parents, they are looking for information as far as the brands they are considering is rated. Unfortunately, a lot of these sites are using criteria such as the presence of a single ingredient to rank their food; to rank them one star based on the presence of a single ingredient
So how can pet food companies take control of their brand perception?
I think its most important for pet food companies to get a public face, a public forum, a two way communication with pet parents so that pet parents can actually feel that the company is more transparent, and more trustful so that they’ll use the information that’s coming from the company itself instead of these other sources.
If a company is dealing with a negative perception out there, how can they combat that? Build trust again?
Well unfortunately once the negative perception is already out there, its very difficult to take control of the negative information. This is where it is critical for the company to be involved not just posting their side of the story and communicating only their side of the perspective, they really need to open that dialogue and let other consumers to see the dialogue in action.
Here is a link to the short video… http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid2651901001?bckey=AQ~~,AAAAAEPkfKY~,xX3BhaKGbsin20jSLZWI_gGHb7OzLIMd&bctid=901579672001
Being solely on the side of pet parents, I have some suggestions for Dr. Brookshire’s consulting group (Dr. Melissa Brookshire – veterinarian – used to work for Diamond Pet Food. Incidentally, several years ago Dr. Brookshire refused to speak to me when I called Diamond with some questions) and to all pet food manufacturers.
1. Pet Food forums and online sources visited by pet parents are necessary because most of this industry is NOT talking. This very event (Petfood Forum and Workshop) denied me admission. I asked for a press pass, they said no. I asked to be admitted (just like everyone else) with paid admission, they said no. What are they afraid of? What are they worried I’ll learn and share with all of you? Transparency needs to take place within the whole industry (pet food trade events, lobby organizations, lobby groups), not just pet food manufacturers.
2. Pet Food forums and online sources visited by pet parents are necessary because of ridiculous pet food regulations and the reckless behavior of the industry. I’ve yet to see a pet food industry consulting group or trade organization step forward and publically denounce FDA Compliance policies that allow euthanized animals into pet food. Yet many pet food forums (including this one) trusted by pet parents have.
If you want our trust and respect, stand along side of pet parents and openly tell the FDA that euthanized animals, diseased animals, and all other horrors allowed into pet food via compliance policies are illegal and wrong.
2. Pet Food forums and online sources visited by pet parents are necessary because of AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) pet food regulations; quality minded manufacturers are not allowed to state grade of ingredient on the label. Unknowing pet parents walk into a pet store…with hundreds of varieties to choose from, the $7.00 bag seems to be the best buy because it looks basically the same as the $37.00 bag. Why spend the extra $30.00 right? Well, thanks to those pet food forums and online sources, a pet parent will learn the $7.00 bag of kibble doesn’t include an ounce of meat, plus its full of risky chemicals and dyes.
Further, AAFCO ingredient definitions allow some pet foods to hide the truth. As example, the pet food ingredient Animal Fat. AAFCO definition of animal fat is “obtained from the tissues of mammals and or poultry in the commercial processes of rendering or extracting.” Any animal – sick, healthy – any part of any sick or healthy animal (including cancerous tissues or medication injection sites of animal tissue) – are cooked (rendered); the fat that rises to the top becomes animal fat. The name and definition sounds far less offensive than what could be included in this pet food ingredient.
If you want our trust and respect, stand up to AAFCO and demand grade of ingredients be provided to pet food consumers. Stand up to AAFCO and demand clear definitions of pet food ingredients.
3. Pet Food forums and online sources visited by pet parents are necessary because pet parents deserve full transparency from pet food, not just the ‘feeling’ of transparency from pet food. The perfect example is/was ethoxyquin.
Thanks to more AAFCO regulations, pet food manufacturers are NOT required to list risky chemicals added to pet food ingredients prior to manufacturing. The common pet food ingredient fish meal, as example, can be preserved with a natural preservative such as mixed tocopherols or Naturox OR the pet food fish meal can be preserved with a risky chemical preservative such as ethoxyquin. An unknowing pet parent that doesn’t frequent those pesky pet food forums and online sources would NEVER know if their fish meal pet food was preserved naturally or with risky chemicals. (Read more and more)
Oh, and by the way, those pet food rating sites (such as Petsumer Report) – many of those sites DO tell the pet food consumer many things that pet food doesn’t openly admit.
Plain and simple…if you want our trust and respect, if you want pet parents to stop depending on pet food forums and online sources, stop hiding the truth from us.
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 2500 cat foods, dog foods, and pet treats. 30 Day Satisfaction Guarantee. www.PetsumerReport.com
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