Are Pet Mass-Marketers Swallowing Up the Little Guys? Will Quality Survive?

December 9, 2015

Many of us dislike changes in the routines we expect each day, and we also object to changes in products we like.  In my home, this goes double for changes in dog and cat foods.  I read almost weekly about some smaller pet food company being swallowed up by one of the big manufacturers, and it isn’t easy to keep up with them.  I worry that the purchasing companies will change the ingredients of their acquisitions, and I’ll miss it. I worry that quality will be compromised. So I’m going to work harder at keeping up with those purchases and watching for any changes in the products.

One example is Merrick Pet Foods. Merrick was recently purchased by Nestle-Purina, a move that truly concerns me. I don’t feed Merrick products to my pets but this company was always known for quality. Will Nestle-Purina change the ingredients?  Who knows?

In the last year, the J.M. Smucker Co. acquired Big Heart Pet Brands, marking their first foray into the pet food manufacturing world.

Nestle-Purina also recently purchased Zukes Pet Treats.  According to, the name “Nestle-Purina” does not appear anywhere on the Zuke’s website.  Is Purina hiding its purchase of Zuke’s for fear consumers will stop buying the product?  I contacted Zuke’s to ask some questions.  Here is the reply from their “bonecierge:”

“Hello Carol,

Thank you for writing us here at Zuke’s, and thank you for the great question! We here at Zuke’s offer a different perspective, and we are excited to be a part of Purina. Through this partnership, we believe we can elicit great change in the pet food industry by staying true to who we are and delivering quality treats to even more deserving pets through valuable, devoted customers like you!”

Now, here’s the real problem for consumers: If the owner/manufacturer is not listed on a product’s packaging, how will we know what’s going on?  Why isn’t Purina listed on the Zuke’s website?  It tells me they expect a backlash of sorts from consumers for buying up another small company known for quality pet treats.  I, for one, am not willing to take the word of a company with so many quality control issues – like Nestle-Purina – that no changes will be made in a product they just purchased. And in truth, you may not know initially if such changes have occurred. Manufacturers are allowed to continue using the same labels and packaging that they have in stock until they run out. They are not required to immediately switch to new materials. (

It pays consumers to keep abreast of mergers and acquisitions in the pet food world, so that we know which companies to keep an eye on and which ones to avoid.  Meanwhile, I’ll be keeping an eye on Zuke’s to see if they maintain their excellent quality control of years’ past.

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