East County News Service
November 14, 2018 (San Diego) – Yesterday, Petco announced it will not sell food and treats containing artificial colors, flavors and preservatives* for dogs and cats by May 2019. The move makes Petco the first and only major retailer of pet food and treats to take a stand against such ingredients, reaffirming the company’s commitment to being the lifelong, trusted partner – for pets and pet parents, alike.
Petco Ceo Ron Coughlin says, “Since our first store opened in 1965, Petco has been dedicated to ensuring the well-being of pets. That commitment continues today, with our decision to not carry food and treats for dogs and cats containing artificial flavors, colors and preservatives.” He adds, “Some may question whether this makes good business sense, but putting pets’ health first has always been the right thing to do for Petco. This is both a major step forward for pets and a natural next step on our journey to become a complete partner in total pet wellness. We hope the rest of the pet industry will join us on this path to better health for the pets we love.”
This isn’t the first time Petco has taken an industry-leading stance as a champion for pets. In 2014, it became the first national specialty retailer to discontinue the sale of China-made treats following consumer concerns about the safety of such products – and other retailers quickly followed suit. With these new standards, the company aims to raise the bar again for the entire pet retail industry.
In January 2019, Petco will begin removing dog and cat foods and treats with artificial ingredients, both from store shelves and ecommerce, with a commitment to complete the process by May 2019. Some of the more than 40 artificial ingredients Petco is eliminating include FD&C Red No. 3, Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), Butylated hytroxytoluene (BHT), Glycerol tributyrate, and benzaldehyde, among others.
Petco’s Co-Chief Merchandising Officer Nick Konat says, “We’re inviting pet food companies to join us on this journey, even working hand-in-hand with some to pursue potential ingredient changes to meet our new stringent ingredient standards.” Petco will drop products that are not updated to meet the new standards, dropping brands or products within a brand that don’t comply. Konat adds, “and we’ll help pet parents affected by such a change to safely transition to a new food or brand that we believe is healthier for their pet.”
The change reflects one of the top concerns pet parents have today: nutrition. It’s no coincidence that pet food trends follow closely behind human food trends.
According to a recent survey by Edelman Intelligence, 87% of pet parents say feeding their pet food made with no artificial flavors, no artificial colors and no artificial preservatives is important to pet’s health and well-being, with 59% of vets agreeing that pet owners should actively seek out foods without those ingredients.
Furthermore, 95% of pet parents believe their pet’s diet and nutrition is essential to their pet’s overall health and wellness, yet more than half (56%) say finding healthy products for their pet(s) is confusing, with another 47% reporting that finding healthy products for their pet is difficult.
Dr. Whitney Miller, veterinarian and director of Veterinary Medicine at Petco, says “Pet parents are seeking answers that help assure them they are making the right . We’re stepping out ahead of the industry here because we believe it’s the right thing to do.” The new Petco nutrition standards will make the decision process much easier for pet owners, she believes.
Petco indicates it has worked closely with in-house and consultant veterinarians, nutritionists, and wellness experts to inform its decision and its new standards for pet nutrition.
“As a veterinary nutritionist, I choose pet foods that are free of artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives when feeding my own dog and cats,” says Dr. Susan Wynn, a board-certified veterinary nutritionist at BluePearl Veterinary Partners, a national provider of specialty and emergency veterinary care based in Atlanta, GA. “Consumer opinions have more influence on company practices now than ever before,” she notes, adding that almost 70% of millennials are more likely to research and purchase foods with natural ingredients. She hopes the rest of the pet product industry will follow Petco’s lead.
Setting a new standard for nutrition is only the first step the company has planned in becoming the most trusted source for pet wellness. As part of this initiative, in 2019 Petco will also launch the Petco Pet Wellness Institute: a coalition of experts from all spectrums of pet health and wellness. According to the company’s press release, veterinarians, nutritionists, pet psychologists, academic researchers, and other credentialed leaders will ensure Petco is offering the best information, education, and services for an array of topics and issues impacting pets’ health and well-being.
Part of the institute’s mandate will be funding evidence-based research on key issues, including the impact of food and ingredients on pet health.
You don’t have to wait until May to find products free of artificial ingredients on the store’s shelves, since Petco already stocks some brands that meet the new standards. You can learn more by consulting with Petco employees including certified pet food specialists or online at Petco.com/betternutrition.
The ban includes colors, flavors and preservatives from non-natural sources, but does not include preservatives derived from natural compounds.
Petco operates over 1,500 Petco and Unleashed by Petco locations in the U.S., Mexico and Puerto Rico.
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