Who Owns Your Brand of Pet Food? ….And Why You Should Care   

Pet food is big business.  In fact, 95% of the brands that you see in the pet food aisles are owned by just 6 companies. And these 6 companies account for almost 90% of consumer spending on pet food. We believe that it’s important to know the companies that are behind the various brands of pet food. Following are the six largest pet food companies.   

1. Mars Petcare, part of the Mars Candy company, leads the way.  Mars owns 41 brands which include:  Evo, Cesar, Eukanuba, IAMS, Nutro, Pedigree and Royal Canin. They recently bought out Orijen and Acana. Mars also owns the largest chain of veterinary clinics and hospitals.     

2. Nestlé Purina is a close second. They own 30 brands which include:  Merrick, Alpo, Beneful, Beyond, Castor & Pollux, Chef Michael’s (who is a fictional person), Fancy Feast, Friskies, Purina and Zukes.    

3. J.M Smuckers, the jam company, is relatively new to pet food having recently acquired several companies. They own 14 brands which include: 9 Lives, Gravy Train, Kibble ‘n Bits, Meow Mix, Milk-Bone, Milo’s Kitchen, and Rachael Ray Nutrish. They sold off Natural Balance in 2020 to a capital management company.    

4. Hill’s Science Diet is owned by Colgate-Palmolive. They have four brands: Science Diet, Prescription Diet, Ideal Balance, and Healthy Advantage.   

5. Diamond Pet Foods is high on the list because they are a co-packer and manufacture food for a wide variety of other companies. Brands owned by Diamond include Diamond Naturals, Nutra-Gold, and Taste of the Wild.    

6. Blue Buffalo is owned by General Mills.  There are many different formulas and specialty diets that all fall under the Blue Buffalo umbrella.     

Many companies “co-pack” their foods. This means that a different manufacturer produces, bags, labels and ships the food.  So the company that actually puts together the final product is a business you have never heard of.  This explains why a recall often affects numerous brands.     

Given the enormous array of choices in pet food today – how do you decide what to feed your dog or cat? After all, what you put in your pet’s body is the single most important factor affecting their health.  Of course, you want a food that is safe, nutritious, and will promote good health.  It should be easy for the consumer to look at the label and find out all the information they need to know.  But it’s not.     

The pictures and wording on the front of a bag of food tells you absolutely nothing about the ingredients or the quality of the food inside the bag.  The label will not tell you where the ingredients came from.  There is an enormous difference between wild-caught Salmon using environmentally sustainable fishing practices and dead, decomposing farm-raised salmon.  The FDA allows many questionable and unsafe ingredients to be included in pet food. They even state that, "We do not believe that the use of diseased animals and animals that have died other than by slaughter to make animal food poses a safety concern."    

The key is trust.  Do you trust the people behind the company?  There are many smaller, independently owned pet food companies.  Smaller is sometimes better, although that’s not to say that a larger company can’t be good. However, smaller brands often have more control over their food supply sources along with a deep commitment to high-quality nutrition, humane sourcing, and environmentally conscious practices.    

Your dog or cat is completely dependent on YOU to ensure that the food they eat isn’t doing more harm than good. Don’t depend on pet food companies or government regulators to have your dog’s or cat’s best interests at heart.  The more you know about where your dog’s food is coming from and how it gets to his bowl, the better.