WARD JOHNSON, president and
CEO of Sojos in Minneapolis
What is your definition of Made in USA?
“Made in the USA” means just
that—the product is manufactured in a production facility
located in the United States. All
Sojos foods and treats, for example, are made under our own
roof in Minneapolis.
Talk about pet products completely
sourced and made in the USA versus
those assembled or formulated in the
USA but sourced elsewhere.
“Sourced” in the USA means
the item or ingredient was pur-
chased from a U.S.-based compa-
ny. That sounds simple enough,
but when it comes to raw ingre-
dients, there’s an important dis-
tinction between “USA sourced”
and “USA grown.” For example,
instances can be found where an
ingredient grown off shore and
imported by a U.S.-based com-
pany for further processing has
been designated “USA sourced.”
How likely is it that more manufacturers in the pet industry will alter their
sourcing and manufacturing?
As a result of the 2007 recalls
JERRY MOFFET, vice president of
involving melamine-tainted pet
food from China, followed by
recent recalls of Chinese jerky
treats, many retailers have cho-
sen to eliminate Chinese pet
products from their food and
treat shelves. Manufacturing in
the USA also provides great-
er control over the quality and
consistency of products, and
eliminates the need to divert
production dollars to transpor-
tation costs and other inefficien-
cies that are unavoidable with
imported products. As a result,
it is highly likely that more man-
ufacturers will alter their manu-
facturing to make Made in the
USA a priority.
sales and marketing for Ruff Dawg
in Worcester, Mass.
What is your definition of Made in USA?
For a product to be labeled “Made
in the USA” it should be 100 percent produced or assembled in
the USA with at least a majority
of all the raw material or parts
coming from within the USA.
How likely is it that more manufacturers
in the pet industry will alter their sourcing and manufacturing?
It’s inevitable. In the last few
years, we have seen a majority
of treat and food manufacturers
move production back into the
USA due to consumer demand
As a “pet parent,” if you are
afraid to feed your pet food or
treats made in a foreign coun-
try, why would you trust a toy,
or any other hard good, that is
Are more foreign markets requesting
U.S.-made pet products?
We do see a growth in our sales
from foreign markets, but not as
substantial an increase as with
our North American customers.
I believe this is due to the value
of the U.S. dollar versus the value of other currencies.
How likely is the Made in USA trend to
I believe it is here to stay and will
continue to grow. It’s an uphill
battle for all of us that push made
in the USA products. Buyers and
consumers want to purchase
made in the USA products but
still want to pay the lower overseas pricing.
JUSAK YANG BERNHARD and JEFFREY ALLEN MANLEY, co-owners of TailsSpin Pet
Food & Accessories, which has locations
We believe that the Made in the USA
label should mean that 100 percent of the
contents need to be sourced, produced
and manufactured in the USA. That’s what
customers currently believe it means.
Manufacturers like Nature’s Logic,
boasting that its pet food does not contain
synthetic supplements, should be applauded. Maybe using local manufacturers is the
answer, as they would be easier to reach,
with accountability and trustworthiness.
In the pet food industry, recently, Blue
Buffalo Blue Cat Treats and Halo, Purely
for Pets cat food have been voluntarily
recalled by their manufacturers due to
potential manufacturing issues. Dogfoo-dadvisor.com also has a list of pet product
lines that are being recalled.
Recalled food items are being sourced
or produced in a variety of countries,
including the United States, and overseas
such as China and other countries. Popular
brands, such as Pedigree, Barkworthies,
Stella & Chewy’s, Nutrisca, Bravo and
Simply Nourish, are among the list. The
country in which an item is produced does
not eliminate it from being recalled.
The Federal Trade Commission regulates the Made in USA labeling standards.
For a product to be labeled as Made in USA
without qualifications or limits on that
claim, all or virtually all significant parts
and processing that go into the product
must be of U.S. origin. If a negligible
portion of the product’s total manufacturing costs and ingredients are considered
insignificant parts of the final product, it
can still be labeled as Made in USA without
qualifications or limits on that claim.
A product composed of 60 percent
U.S. content also can be labeled as “made
in the USA” as long as it states the percentages of U.S. and non-U.S. components.
But the size of that additional information
in relation to [the statement] “made in the
USA” on the label is not regulated. A majority of consumers will still feel that they are
buying a genuine USA-made product that
has this type of label.
A majority of human supplements are
only sourced outside of the U.S. and not
produced in this country. The Food and
Drug Administration says it does not have
sufficient staff to monitor the overseas
plants, which produce nearly 80 percent of
the pharmaceutical ingredients and nearly
40 percent of the finished prescription
drugs consumed in the U.S. For example,
according to The Seattle Times, China
has captured 90 percent of the vitamin C
market in the U.S. Many vitamins are being
added in the manufacturing of soft drinks,
cosmetics, food and pet food.
So even with the “made in the USA”
label on pet food, it becomes almost impossible to know if the food is 100 percent U.S.
made. We learned that consumers do not
need to be told if a manufacturer changes a
food’s recipe or ingredients. Typically consumers will only ask once they notice that
their pets are not eating the food [the same
way] they used to. Or maybe by chance they
happen to compare the ingredient panels on
two different bags of the same food. With
the wiggle room within the “all or virtually
all” requirement regarding labeling, Made
in the USA might not mean as much as the
consumer thinks it does.
Keeping the jobs in America, boosting
the American economy and having control
and accountability are major reasons why
more and more consumers are seeking
products made in the USA. Typically,
though, more than half of the customers
that ask us for USA-made products will
pause for a moment when they notice
the price difference. Prices become a big
challenge for retailers. At the end of the
day, it is tougher to carry, and likewise sell,
too many items that customers believe will
cost double to four times as much.
Businesses are always watching the
bottom line, trying to raise profits and
make more money. Ways of cheaper costs
will always be explored and maintained.
Items with higher profit margins will be
sought out. This commonly makes Made in
the USA a tough sale based on price alone.
Because of these common human be-
haviors and emotions, maybe the answers
should lie in seeking a health-conscious
standard of transparencies among all of the
manufacturers. Standards can be imple-
mented for every aspect of establishing a
product that can highlight those products
that are truly 100 percent USA made.
The labeling process needs to be
honest. For example, “lamb (New Zealand),
rice (Thailand) and vitamin C (China); bags
printed in the USA.” As parents need to be
accountable regarding their children’s edu-
cation, manufacturers need to be account-
able regarding their sources of ingredients,
and make sure that quality standards are
implemented and maintained.
TAILSSPIN, PET PRODUCT NEWS’ 2015-2016 RETAILER OF THE YEAR,
WEIGHS IN ON THE MADE IN THE USA ISSUE
“The questions about companies stating made in USA but sourcing elsewhere are not
fooling the public. The consumer is catching on, and it makes them angry that companies
are scamming them. At Python Products we do a lot of different shows throughout the year.
We listen closely to what the consumer says and wants. We continuously receive thank yous
for making it here in America. We are asked why other companies don’t make their products
here and honestly can’t give them an answer. The consumer is willing to pay for made in the
USA products because they know they are safer and the quality is of a much higher standard.
This is why at Python Products our tag line is: ‘Quality is proof … You have a choice … Choose
American!’”—LANCE REYNIERS, president of Python Products in Milwaukee
We have set up multiple displays of
just made in the USA treats, and they
are doing very well. These displays
also help employees who might not
know where each treat comes from
individually. By putting them in one
place, they are able to easily answer
Selling made in the USA products
has also become easier in recent years
because treat companies are proud to
put the American sticker on the packaging, which makes it easier for the
consumer to know [a product is made
in the USA] simply by looking at it.
At the register and when
customers first walk into the store,
we have a large display of the newest
variety of treats that are made in the
USA. This display at the entrance
proves very useful, because it gives
the customer an idea of the products
we sell, but [doesn’t limit] them to a
single brand.—Ryan Mello, assistant
manager at Salisbury Super Pet in
BOBBI PANTER PET
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