Pet Food Recalls Return Spotlight to Pet Product Safety

Much like the widespread pet food recalls of 2007, these latest recalls have brought the issue of pet food safety into the spotlight, leaving pet food and treat marketers to allay consumer concerns about their products.

Mnet 145551 Pet Food Aisle Lead 1

ROCKVILLE, Md. (PRNewswire) — Earlier this month a routine test that uncovered Listeria monocytogenes in a sample of Stella & Chewy's chicken freeze-dried dinner patties for dogs lead the pet food manufacturer to issue a recall on various treats. Days later another U.S.-based pet food maker, Vital Essentials, recalled some of its products due to potential contamination with Listeria.

Much like the widespread pet food recalls of 2007, these latest recalls have brought the issue of pet food safety into the spotlight, leaving pet food and treat marketers to allay consumer concerns about their products. Packaged Facts January 2015 survey data published in the recently released report Pet Treats and Chews in the U.S. indicate that the majority of pet owners are concerned about the safety of the treats they purchase for their pets. This includes 61 percent of dog owners who are concerned, which Packaged Facts links to the higher incidence of recalls related to products for canines.  Additionally, 56 percent of dog owners and 44 percent of cat owners agree that fear of contamination/product safety is a key consideration in the pet foods they buy.

While both Stella & Chewy's and Vital Essentials are American companies, pet products manufactured in China have come under considerable scrutiny in recent years due to contamination. Just last year pet retailers PETCO and PetSmart stopped the sale of Chinese-made pet treats due to concerns over the potential for tainted products.

"Due to events such as the furor in 2014 over potential safety risks associated with Chinese-manufactured jerky treats, pet owners in the U.S. have begun to scrutinize pet products they buy even more closely, and repercussions of this heightened focus on product safety have been felt in the treat market most of all," says David Sprinkle, research director for Packaged Facts.

As pet owners and retailers have become more cautious than ever about where the ingredients in the foods they give their pets originate from, they are increasingly demanding products made with ingredients sourced as close to home as possible, reveals Packaged Facts in another report, Pet Food in the U.S., 11th Edition.  The recent concerns over treats made in China, the recalls of jerky treats such as Waggin' Train, Canyon Creek Ranch and Milo's Kitchen Chicken Jerky and Chicken Grillers, and additional scrutiny from the FDA have put consumers and retailers on high alert. As a result, labeling with authentic food themes and locally sourced ingredients have become commonplace in the world of pet food and treats during the past few years.

The safety conscious market environment is also a key factor in the growing popularity of premium "natural" products, which offer greater assurances in regard to quality of ingredients and manufacturing process.  Packaged Facts May/April 2014 Pet Owner Survey found that 41% of pet owners consider natural and organic pet foods to be safer than regular pet foods.  Combining the level of pet parent devotion and the level of concern over product safety, there is plenty of room for safety-based product positioning for premium pet products.  

About Packaged Facts – Packaged Facts, a division of MarketResearch.com, publishes market intelligence on a wide range of consumer market topics, including consumer demographics and shopper insights, consumer financial products and services, consumer goods and retailing, consumer packaged goods, and pet products and services.  Packaged Facts also offers a full range of custom research services. Reports can be purchased at www.PackagedFacts.com and are also available on www.marketresearch.com and www.profound.com

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