Pet Health Australia is a publication from pet food manufacturer Real Petfood Company.
Are you wondering the obvious?
Is there a conflict of interest when a pet food manufacturer releases a publication on pet health?
On the cover of Issue 01 we find a purchase incentive where you can win a year’s supply of Ivory Coat, a Real Petfood Co brand which has come under fire in the past from numerous consumer complaints.
Let’s take a look at how pet food manufacturers influence us as consumers, and whether we should trust a publication such as Pet Health Australia?
How do pet food companies influence us as consumers?
Have you seen an advert on television, in a magazine or newspaper, or over the radio which suggests a pet food is the best you can buy for the health of your pet?
Yes, of course you have.
Two of the biggest manufacturers of pet food in the world – Mars and Nestle – spend millions of dollars advertising their pet foods, yet you will find these adverts won’t discuss the majority of ingredients.
According to Media Radar, Mars Petcare spent just shy of $100 million on advertising (digital, print, and television) during 2021. Purina Petcare, subsidiary of Nestle, are believed to have spent upwards of $100 million.
That’s a great deal of marketing clout, catchy slogans and visuals, to convince you their pet foods are the best for your pet.
But are they?
Sometimes the marketing of a pet food comes hand in hand with the endorsement of a vet or veterinary professional. Sometimes, with Mars brand Optimum being one example, the endorsement is a celebrity vet. Someone we inherently trust because we feel a connection to them.
Should we assume a vet who endorses a pet food represents the opinion of all vets on pet health, or should we question how much these endorsements are money-related?
For many years pet food companies have found ways to influence us with clever strategies. As consumers we trust what we see and hear without question, whether it’s from advertising (design by professionals to influence us), or from word of mouth.
Your neighbour may feed her dog Baxters (another pet food from Real Petfood Company as a private label for Woolworths), and she may recommend the brand to you because her dog “loves it”. We are easily influenced by such recommendations, regardless of whether you or the source has considered it in terms of pet health.
What pet food are you currently feeding?
Have you considered whether it is appropriate for your pet?
Whatever marketing techniques a pet food manufacturer will use, it is common they will build unquestioned loyalty through “expert” information, loyalty programs, discounts, competitions, or promises of pet health.
Who are the Real Pet Food Company?
The Real Petfood Company are a significant Australian pet food manufacturer based in VIC, producing a variety of commercial and private label pet food brands.
On the Real Petfood Company website you will find a promise with the words “As fellow pet parents, we strive to constantly innovate and push boundaries to give our pets the real food they deserve.”
Marketing strategists use wording designed to capture your trust, such as unifying both you and them as “fellow pet parents”. We implicitly trust those who are the same as us.
We also know the Australian pet food industry has suffered from poor regulation and lack of transparency, with marketing and labelling regulations relatively self-governed by the industry.
A Senate inquiry into the safety of pet food, with regulatory approaches, was instigated in 2018. Numerous submissions from Australian pet owners and organisations speak specifically, and negatively, of Real Petfood Company brands.
Submissions to the Senate investigation may be found here.
Consumer reviews on the website Product Review also suggest issues, inclusive of blood in diarrhoea, skin issues, pancreatitis, and diabetes. Although we can not substantiate these issues, you may read them here. Many of these consumer reports do not suggest pet health.
As a pet owner yourself, you will likely recognise many brands manufactured by the Real Petfood Company:
- Ivory Coat
- Billy + Margot
- Farmers Market
- Nature’s Gift
- Natures Goodness
- Fussy Cat
- Benyfit Natural
- Doctor B’s BARF
- V.I.P. Petfoods
- Love’em Treats
In addition to the above, the Real Petfood Company make various private label brands sold in supermarkets, pet stores, and online.
Can you trust Pet Health Magazine, a publication from a pet food manufacturer?
There is a clear conflict of interest when a pet food manufacturer releases a magazine on Pet Health.
Any information in relation to products we must assume are promotional and biased to that one manufacturer. Promoting products from rival pet companies would not be in the interest of the Real Petfood Company as a manufacturer.
You must also question whether any information on pet health is accurate, honest, or if it is promotional.
Have you read Pet Health Australia?
Let us know in the comments!
Images sourced from: Ads of the World.