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The Australian pet food industry is owned by two companies. Grains anyone?

dog eating foodWould you buy your "dog food" from a confectionery company? There is every chance that is what you have been doing (and your parents) for most of your lives.  Have you ever wondered about where dog food comes from (or at least the companies behind them).  The two main companies selling 'dog food' in Australia are indeed giant international corporations and the next level down is occupied by pharmaceutical companies. How natural does that sound to you?

If you thought the supermarket duopoly of Coles and Woolies was bad, hold onto your hats! The two major dog food manufacturers in Australia that have around the same amount of market share as the supermarkets do in their market. YES REALLY. And that is why you feed your dog grains and vegetables instead of meat.

Get your attention?

I only found out about this market domination when visiting a dog forum recently. I suggested in this forum that most vets I have visited seem like overworked GP's and tend not to discuss obvious physical solutions for better dog health, like walking them and feeding them meat.  I was amazed by their reply that their vets discussed nutrition options, daily walks and "environmental enrichment", what an excellent vet I thought.

Then they went onto warn me/ censor me about propagating "horrible FUD" (Fear Uncertainty & Doubt) that apparently some people on facebook write about what goes into dog food. Oh My!   As I have read information about what goes into dog food and know that it is all about making profit for shareholders, I thought I should dig a little deeper.

If my ascertain that dogs need mostly meat in their diet was so wrong, then it would be enlightening to see how the dog food market deals with it. For surely in a competitive open market, we could not all be brainwashed into feeding cheap non meat foods to our carnivore dogs if it was bad for them. Surely there would be a lot of dog food companies that would compete in the real meat niche.

Best dog treat to supplement your dog food

If you feed your dog commercial dog food it already has some chicken or beef in it most likely.  Not a lot, but just enough to nudge the raw protein levels over the minimum aafco requirements to be called dog food.

To ensure your dog gets sufficient essential amino acids (the amino acids in protein that your dog cant internally manufacture), we suggest either adding more of the same meat (beef or chicken)  or for the benefit of nutrition diversity add some roo, or fish regularly. Just reduce the pellets by the amount of meat dog treat that you add.

If you want to go down the conservative path (knowing they already like it) you can use>  Beef Jerky or Aussie Chicken Breast.

If you want to add 100% organic meat that is wild in nature, then Roo Jerky, Roo Jerky Long or any of the fish such as Flake, Hoki or Sardine will do very well.

The Australian Dog Food Industry is run by TWO MAIN companies

A bold statement you may say. Well let me list for you  some brands that I know about that are sold in Australia from two main companies ...

MARS Petcare brands

• Advance

• Pedigree  & Pal

• Royal Canin

• Nutro (natural Choice)

• Smackos

• Greenies

• Exelpet

• My Dog


• Purina

• Beneful

• Supercoat

• Michael’s Canine Creations

Procter & Gamble (P&G).

The company produces 17 different types for dogs. Holistic Pet Foods P/L "100% Australian owned and operated company"  is the exclusive importer and distributor of the Canidae and Felidae products (which is made by Proctor and Gamble). They also make:

• Eukanuba


Natura Pet Products that includes: Innova, Evo, California Natural, Karma, Healthwise and Mother Nature

Colgate-Palmolive Company.

Own Hill's Pet Nutrition, Inc

Note these are only some of the dog brands I have found, and only those that are in Australia. This is not an exhaustive list of all their brands.

Why should you be concerned with such a massive market dominance by two players?

Oligopoly Definition:   "A situation in which a particular market is controlled by a small group of firms. An oligopoly is much like a monopoly, in which only one company exerts control over most of a market.

Without putting too much FUD out there. Consider this. If there are only two or three major players in any market, they set the standard. They have massive funds to advertise so that they become part of the social fabric of our lives and they buy all the shelf space at Coles and Woolies.

By having massive sales (even subsidised by the other business units), they can and often do get to have discussions with the ACCC.  Look up how many times each brand has had recall issues for using cheap bad ingredients from developing countries.

True Ownership of your dog (food) in Australia

Did you know that many of the pet foods you buy are controlled by international corporations?

Mars, Incorporated is an American global manufacturer of confectionery, pet food, and other food products. It had US$30 billion in annual sales in 2010 and at that stage was the  third largest privately held company in the United States.  You may be aware that as a private company they do not have anywhere near as much disclosure requirements as a public listed company.

Nestlé is a Swiss multinational nutritional, snack food, and health-related consumer goods company. It is the largest (be revenue) food company in the world.

Procter & Gamble is an American multinational consumer goods company. Its products include pet foods, cleaning agents and personal care products. In 2012, P&G recorded $83.68 billion dollars in sales.

Colgate-Palmolive Company is an American multinational consumer products company. It has production, distribution and provision of household, health care & personal products, and dog food. through Hills

What does it matter who makes your dog food?

I am sure that the 999 out of 1,000 people who regularly feed their dogs one of the brands above won't mind that the formulas and profit demands are organised by these massive overseas multinationals. Of course you can trust them!

You probably dont mind that many of the seats on the advisory committee that decides what should go into dog food in America (and Australia) on the AAFCO, are made up of employees of these major companies.

But here is a possible take on why you are feeding your dogs grains, vegetables or anything but raw meat.

For half a century advertising has told you that pellets and canned are best and safest. A little bit reminiscent of the smoking adverts we used to see everywhere.

The fact is though that grains will not instantly or in the mid-term kill your dog. But why would you feed your dog an inferior food source if you didn't have to? Can the major dog food companies here make money from selling raw meat? Probably not.

Can they make anywhere near the same profits that they do now, but having a high percentage of meat in their products DEFINITELY NOT.

Now I am not suggesting that everyone go out there and feed their dog meat, that would be silly. I am not saying that these giant overseas multinationals don't have your best interest at heart.

I am not saying that their huge market dominance, shelf space, advertising budgets, and deals with vets to sell their products sets such a low standard that everyone believes every dog food commercial they see on TV, just because they are played often enough. For we are all reasonable people.

Fear Uncertainty Doubt (FUD)

Here is the funny thing about censorship that I was given on a forum. It was about censoring a raw healthy diet, and not information about multinational products that 99.9% of the population buy. I guess people are more likely to be sued by a multinational than an association of butchers?

Sure I have written about how the list order of dog food ingredients can be deceiving and in fact the last three quarters of the list can make up 80% of the ingredients (so it doesn't matter if meat is listed first).

That often meat quality can be questionable in dog food.

That what looks like meat in cans is often soy products made to look like meat TVP.

What is more interesting is that the Pet Food Industry Association of Australia (PFIAA) website offers you a glimpse of how great their member are by abiding by the Australian Standard AS 5812-2011 for dog food  (Manufacturing and marketing of pet food). But of course if you want to see the full document you have to buy it. Can one of my readers please send me a copy?

In the sample FREE six pages you can access online it says " the standard covers production of pet food from sourcing and receipt of ingredients to storage, processing, packing, labelling and storage or products in order to assure its safety for pets".

What it does not tell you is that Australia blindly follows the AAFCO determination of what minimum ingredients should be in the dog food, based on their committee members who include powerful representatives of the leading dog food brands. And that the trials are often considered to be flawed by many dog owners.

The PFIAA  brags that 98% of the dog food sold in Australia is made by companies that are are members of the PFIAA.  The following  may help you understand that the PFIAA is there for its members not the public per se. And that they spread the word of the dog food manufactures well.

However, it seems that the best way the get around the tricky MEAT topic is by omission. Here are some examples of their on-line statements, and my comment on them.

How Much Protein does my Pet Need?

This is the title of an article on the PFIAA site.  it cuts to the core of why dogs evolved to eat meat, and why meat is still the best things for them.

PFIAA "Protein is a critical nutrient for cats and dogs The dog or cat cannot make all the amino acids they require and must consume enough of certain amino acids in their food. These are called "essential amino acids" "It's not just the amount; the source of the protein is important too."

PFIAA "Proteins from animal tissues, such as eggs, fish, poultry and meat are considered good sources of proteins providing a range of essential amino acids. The dog or cat digests these proteins in their food, breaking them up into smaller units (peptides) and their component amino acids, absorbing these into their body and then using these amino acids to rebuild new complex proteins that the dog or cat needs to make."

As you can see they have made a strong statement about the value of meat based products ""Proteins from animal tissues, such as eggs, fish, poultry and meat are considered good sources of proteins."NOTE how they don't mention that other sources such as grains and vegetables are poor sources of protein. They don't mention this, because their members cannot afford (profit wise) to include large amounts of meat in their products.

So what follow up statement could they provide that explains why using too much meat in a product (say over 20%) is bad for your pet?

PFIAA "If the food provides enough protein to meet the dog or cat's needs, providing even more protein does not provide any substantial benefit."

Classic shell game move! It pretty much leaves the gate open to feeding a dog or cat ANY protein source, because even the lesser sources will do, if they eat more.

But then they go and spoil this story by the following heading: "The protein should be easily digested and absorbed"

PFIAA "The ease with which a dog or cat can digest the protein depends on the source of the protein and the processing of the food. Protein digestibility means how much of the protein eaten is actually able to be absorbed and used by the pet. Animal proteins, such as egg, milk and meat proteins are generally good sources of highly digestible proteins providing a good range of essential amino acids for the dog and cat."

"Proteins are also found in cereals (e.g corn, rice) and legumes including peas or soybeans. In prepared pet foods, manufacturers generally select a variety of raw materials to provide the required amount and type of protein needed by the dog or cat. Feeding extra protein in excess of the amount that your pet requires provides no particular health benefit to your pet."

OK did you see what is happening here. They are happy to disclose that meat is easiest for a dog and cat to digest (because that is what they evolved to eat)  YET you can feed your dog corn, rice or legumes because it " provide the required amount and type of protein needed" that is if extra is consumed to make up for the poor digestibility of the plant proteins.

Why make it harder on your pet's digestion and immunity system (working over-time to process inappropriate proteins) just because it's cheaper for the manufacturer to include in their foods.

By the way, if you were to feed your dog a raw diet, you would go to a butcher and none of these massive multi-nationals would be making any money off you or your pet.

Be aware the true FUD is the information put out there by multinationals about raw diets. That they can be dangerous for your pets. Yes, the main food source that wild animals have been eating since they evolved, is all of a sudden dangerous. Wild animals eat wild animals, without refrigeration. If you buy human grade meat  and offal for your dog or cat, you can freeze it to kill any potential bacteria that would harm you or your animal, then you can defrost and feed them it raw.

If you want to read anything truly scary or unsafe Google a few of the major companies and words like pet food recalls, or go on the ACCC site and see how safe their ingredients and manufacture processes have been in the past.

I dont suggest you immediately switch your dog over to a raw meat diet, but I do ask that you consider everything that you have been told and sold by multinationals and downstream companies.

With such high market dominance (Australian Pet Food Industry) and money involved, it is easy to see why us humans and dogs have swallowed their stories for all these years!

Article by Bruce Dwyer. If you wish to use any of this information please refer to the article as a reference and provide a link to www.

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