ingredients, yet many remain unaware of
the source of those ingredients and might
become confused by conflicting pet food
company claims, Neola said.
For example, she said, retailers can
help pet owners understand the difference
between diets formulated with synthetic
ingredients versus those prepared with
fresh, natural sources of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and enzymes.
At Odyssey Pets in Dallas, co-owner
Sherry Redwine noted that retailer expertise plays a vital role in simplifying the
food selection process for shoppers.
“Our customer base wants a quality
product from a reliable source at a decent
price,” she said. “They trust us to offer
the very best in pet foods, and we do not
carry foods containing corn, wheat gluten,
byproducts or Chinese ingredients. How-
ever, when I have a conversation with a
customer about the particular sourcing of
ingredients and the intricacies of co-pack-
ing, their eyes glaze over.”
In addition to in-store knowledge,
education methods such as email blasts
and social media marketing can increase
reach, Selleck said, adding that visibility is
another linchpin to building awareness.
“I’ve seen stores create an entire made
in the USA product section to help the
customer find what they are looking for,”
The independent retailer continues to
be instrumental in advocating, educating
and spreading the word on good nutrition
and, because of these efforts, more pet
owners are recognizing USA-made foods
as superior, safe and convenient alternatives to highly processed foods, Loesch
USA-MADE OPTIONS FOR CATS
The feline crowd is catching up to its
canine counterparts in terms of the
demand for quality, but challenges remain
in getting some cat owners to upgrade
their pets’ diets, said Stephanie Wright,
Westside manager for Bend Pet Express in
“Because cats tend to be finicky
eaters, they are notoriously difficult to
switch to higher-end foods and are also
very good at hiding medical issues rooted
in diet,” Wright said. “Additionally, owners
who have been feeding low-end food for
years often see no reason to upgrade be-
cause Fluffy is an outdoor kitty and doing
just fine on brand X.”
Manufacturers are paying attention to
these challenges and offering solutions,
including more foods with ingredients that
are mostly or entirely sourced in the U.S.
Intended as a treat, mixer or topper,
Smallbatch Pets’ Freeze-Dried Bites for
cats is available in four recipes. Each
selection contains 95 percent meat, organ
and bone, and is 100 percent USA sourced
and made, Selleck said.
“We’ve also incorporated fermented
purple cabbage for a nonanimal-derived
source of probiotics,” Selleck said.
Each protein combines a superfood
ingredient: chicken and turmeric, turkey
and cranberry, beef and papaya, and duck
Smallbatch also recently added rabbit
to its mix of frozen cat foods.
“The rabbit in our new frozen slider
offering is completely USA sourced, as are
all other ingredients, with the exception
of organic kelp, which is sourced from the
pristine waters of Iceland,” Selleck said.
Among My Perfect Pet’s offerings are
two USA-sourced, grain-free recipes for
Toby’s Turkey Carnivore Grain Free
Blend, formulated for both kittens and
adult cats, meets Association of American
Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) nutrient
profiles for all life stages and is made with
freshly baked boneless, skinless turkey.
Additionally, a limited amount of fresh,
whole foods, such as spinach, cranberries
and kale, supplies essential nutrients,
Low Phosphorus Chicken Carnivore
profiles, with the
exception of phosphorus and chloride,
and is rich in antioxidants to promote
a healthy immune
system, Neola said.
“We start by
gently cooking 100
and blending them
with raw vegetables
and cranberries,” she added. “We refuse
to use meals, corn, sugars or soy in our
blends, and all produce is free of GMOs.”
THE INGREDIENTS SOURCING CHALLENGE
USA-sourced cat food faces a few sourcing obstacles, as many of the proteins
beyond the basic chicken, beef or turkey
can be difficult to obtain entirely in the
USA, Selleck said.
A large part of that challenge has to do
with agriculture in the U.S., she said.
“Simply put, other countries consume
and grow more of the exotic proteins such
as duck, rabbit or lamb,” Selleck said.
“Also, taurine is difficult to source in the
USA and must be supplemented in cooked
products. Unless the eating patterns of
the United States change, these issues are
unlikely to go away.”
Attention to the country of origin
information on the ingredient list, the
reputation of the manufacturer and the
company’s policies on transparency are all
important when making buying decisions,
“With vitamins and minerals and/or
particular spices, you’ll likely do better
sourcing from a country rich in those
particular resources,” she said.
A benefit of manufacturing food in the
U.S. is the elimination of the need to divert
production dollars to transportation costs
and other inefficiencies that are unavoidable with imported goods, Loesch said.
“That, plus growing consumer demand,
will no doubt continue to attract more and
more manufacturers to the advantages
of in-country production, and appeal to
retailers to feature brands offering made
in the USA products,” she added. ★