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Walmart Pet Food Field Trip

Apr 8, 2008
I took a little field trip yesterday - to Walmart and paid a visit to the pet food aisle. It was one of the most discouraging field trips I've ever taken. I'm not going to mention any product names but wow do I have some interesting 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.

he most common sales trick I found were pet foods that stated 'flavored'. The actual names of the foods were 'Steak and Vegetable Flavor' or 'Chicken and Fish Flavor' - one pet food even got specific with the product name stating Albacore Tuna and Yellow Fin Tuna Flavor. The trick here is the pet food is just FLAVORED with steak and vegetables or Albacore Tuna - it doesn't actually have steak or Albacore Tuna in it. Most pet owners don't make the connection - they see Albacore Tuna and Yellow Fin Tuna or Steak and Vegetable - they don't see Flavor. Pet food marketing has programmed pet owners to assume that since the front of the pet food bag boldly states Albacore Tuna on it - it's got Albacore Tuna inside the bag. When actually the opposite is true. When you think about it - if it actually contained a human grade piece of steak or Albacore Tuna in the food - it would cost more than $.50 cents a can or $5.00 a bag (Albacore Tuna does cost more than Albacore Tuna Flavor).

One pet food proudly stated 'No Fillers' on the front of the bag - yet in the small print of the ingredient list - Ground Corn, Chicken by-products, Corn Gluten Meal were the first three ingredients. Sounds like fillers to me!

Another mentions "New Shapes and Colors". Let's see, does this mean this pet food is using more Red Dye now or more Yellow Dye? Very discouraging.

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 animals including the euthanizing drug), and Dyes (only benefits the pet owner - has no nutritional benefit to the pet).

I left Walmart feeling very discouraged and actually blown away at how many by-products, meat and bone meals, and chemically preservatives in the pet foods there. During my 20 minute visit probably five or six pet owners picked up a bag of pet food to purchase. I kept my mouth shut - which is difficult knowing what they were about to feed their pets. To give Walmart a little credit, there were a couple of pet foods that were good - not great, but good. I know that every pet owner cannot afford to spend $25 or more for pet food, but in my opinion no one 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.
About the Author
Before you purchase one more bag or can of pet food learn the Truth About Pet Food. Sign up for the free newsletter and subscribe to Petsumer Report. http://www.TruthAboutPetFood.com
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