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3/19/12

Why Pet Food Commercials Piss Me Off (I'm looking at YOU, @Beneful)

Flipping through the channels, I see this.


I love this commercial.  Everything about it, until the 55 second mark when a grocery-store bag of crap enters the screen.


The reason I hate these types of commercials is because they pander to audiences, in making you believe that this is good food.

Let's review, shall we?  The top 6 ingredients for Beneful Original are Ground Yellow Corn, chicken by-product meal, corn gluten meal, whole wheat flour, animal fat (for flavoring), and rice flour.

Does that sound appetizing?  Any of it?

Have you ever seen a dog running through a cornfield, excited and looking hungrily at the stalks?

How many people do you know with gluten intolerances, or who like eating chicken by-products?

The first 3 ingredients by themselves sound like you're feeding chicken-infused tortilla chips...

But, it gets better.  Assume you have a 60lb dog.  A 31.1lb bag will set you back $28.99, and recommended feeding is about 5-5.5 cups per day.  It's costing you $1.04 per day to feed your dog, and over $370 per year.

$370 a year, to feed your dog garbage.

Well, a better food costs more, doesn't it???

Nope, my unbiased ass picked a premium food at random.  Meet Premium Edge Chicken & Rice formula.  (I'm not endorsing one single brand of food, any 'good' food will do)

Top 6 ingredients:  Chicken, chicken meal, ocean fish meal, whole grain brown rice, cracked pearled barley, white rice.

The top 3 ingredients are all meat, with #1 being REAL meat.  (Meat meal isn't bad, but it's nice to see real meat as well.)  No byproducts.  No corn.  Ingredients that sound like stuff *I* would eat!

Now, for price.  A 35lb bag of Premium Edge will cost you $39.99.

Whoa whoa whoa, it DOES cost more!  Right?

Wrong.  It's healthier, so you're feeding less.  Serving size for a 60lb dog is 2.5-3 cups a day, which means daily cost of feeding is $0.76.  That's over a quarter a day in savings.  Yearly cost for this food is just under $275.

Almost $100 in yearly savings, to feed a better food for your dog.  (and that's just one medium-sized dog.  Imagine households with 2...3... 4 dogs or more...)

Why don't the commercials say that??

Oh, that's right, they put all their money into marketing, and not nutrition.

Long story short, don't buy your pet food at a grocery store or at Target/Walmart.  Don't pay for TV commercials, and don't trust a brand you see on TV (at least, not without some due diligence).  Read labels, ask about 'costs per feeding' and make sure you do right by your dog.

Not only will you save money on food, but feeding a healthier diet means less vet bills.  Less poop to clean up.  Less to feed means a bag lasts longer.  It's really win/win/win.



Anyway, there's my rant, but it's a rant who's been selling/marketing/analyzing dozens of pet foods over the last 10 years.  In my personal life, I work for a company that sells a 'grocery' brand.  Sales or not, commissions or not, I would never recommend crap like Beneful to friends or family.

Which is why I can't, in good conscience, push brands like that to my clients.  It may hurt my wallet, but I do what's right.

What do you feed your pet?  And why?


p.s. - It seems that I got Purina's attention.  The @Beneful twitter account messaged me and two of my followers, asking us to contact them to discuss...

Click to enlarge...

Sorry, there's nothing really to discuss.  Your commercials are fantastic, your pet food is not.  If you'd like to hire me on as a nutritional consultant, feel free to email me at lostinidaho@ymail.com.  For now, I'll enjoy selling against you in my day job, and advocating against grocery-brands here.   Cheers!
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30 witty retorts:

Lady Estrogen said...

It's like the McDonald's of Dog Food marketing.

Zombie said...

The worst part of dog food is when your dog gets picky and wants more people food than dog food. lol.

Kim Gibson said...

I know that the first ingredient in my dog's food needs to be meat, so I usually feed Lucy Iams. The first ingredient is chicken, but the second ingredient is corn meal. Maybe I should switch her to a brand that does not contain corn meal? You make some good points.

Random Girl said...

Way to go Brandon. Thanks for the great information. You can tell you are very knowledgeable and more importantly, very passionate about your animal's health and well being.

DogsOnDrugs.com said...

I dunno, I think Beneful is ok, although it does have a funky aftertaste.

Tales from a Misfit Housewife said...

Great post and oh so true! I actually feed premium edge , the fish variety. I have a 50 dog and one bag of this food lasts 6 weeks and she is a very healthy vizsla. I prefer eagle holistic but for cost premium edge is a good food and $15 less than the holistic. Great post! So many people are unaware that they spend more feeding ol roy than a premium food. Another perk, less poop!!

Leeanna said...

I feed my dogs Premium too. They love it and are healthy as hell for Boston's.

J.Day said...

After working for Petco for 3 years, I learned things like this. It totally blew my mind when I did the math and read the labels. I give my parents shit for feeding "Attaboy" to their dogs. I only have a cat, but I read the labels and buy the best that I can afford. In the end, it's worth it.

Brandon Lostinidaho said...

@Kim Gibson: Corn isn't horrible, but dog's really don't need it. Again, think of the cornfield story.

Iams isn't great, but it's an improvement. I challenge you to do a 'cost per feeding' comparison with Iams and another Premium Food at your local pet store. :)

As long as the food isn't like Beneful or Pedigree, where the top ingredients are so much corn it's like feeding your dog tortilla chips...

Workingdan said...

First they feed us a bunch of crap to us humans about how healthy their food is. Now they are after the dogs too? That's pretty low! Of all the cheap ways to make a profit!

Pish Posh said...

This is great, nice job. Ths stuff makes me so mad. I feed my pets Science Diet but their canned food makes me mad. I think it leads to diabetes. Even tho Im vegetarian I try to feed them actual fresh meat and fish when possible rather than the corn and flour and byproduct shit in pet food. There are some organic ones that are okay too.

Crack You Whip said...

I used to have English Bulldogs and fed them Science Diet or Iams. They also ate steaks when they were nursing. Sadly, this is true.

They were healthy, just not bright.

Haven said...

I give my cat Iams. I think it's pretty healthy as far as things go. I think?

Brandon Lostinidaho said...

@Pish & Crack:

Science diet isn't much better. It still has corn gluten meal (yummy!) and costs about $1.50 per day to feed.

Science Diet was revolutionary 50+ years ago, but they haven't done much since then. Would you use a 50 year old TV or phone?

Pish, if you want to avoid byproducts, glutens and crap, look for a grain-free diet. Earthborn Holistic, Canidae PURE, Taste of the Wild. All meat, no grains, limited carbs. It's what I feed, and what I recommend most of the time.

Michael said...

I have cars but I'm positive this logic would hold true for them too. I'll be spending more time in the pet aisle on my next trip.

Brandon Lostinidaho said...

More isn't always better. Science Diet is a good example of that. Slightly better than Beneful, twice the cost, and it still gets smoked by a premium pet food (on price and on quality).

Protip: Pet AISLE? Bad. Pet STORE? Good. :)

the Tsaritsa said...

Our shelter kitty grew up on Purina, and that is the only dry food she will really eat. We've tried getting her healthier options with whole ingredients, but she doesn't touch it, she likes the cheap stuff.

One of my friends makes homemade cat food for her pets, but she spends a lot of money on it and it takes a lot of time. I'd consider doing the same, if I thought Sookie would even try the homemade stuff. She's spoiled! But at least the Purina isn't that bad.

Kim Gibson said...

Brandon, I'm going to do a comparison as you've suggested. But I usually free feed my golden retriever. If I just keep her dish full, will she eat less of the Premium Food on her own, or am I supposed to measure it and give her less? I know that it's recommended that owners measure their dogs' food so they don't overeat, but Lucy gets quite a bit of exercise and her weight has not yet been an issue.

Brandon Lostinidaho said...

Do a little of both. Ration to start, to get your pup used to a smaller portion.

(Think about when you eat fast food regularly, and then healthy food. You eat less, and are hungry more often when you start.)

Once they get used to a smaller meal, go back to free feeding. If you go from her eating 5 cups a day on one food, she's going to want to eat 5 cups of the new food. By rationing for a while, you'll break that habit.

Pish Posh said...

Thanks for the recommendations Brandon!! I'll look for those. I might have to by them online because I live in the middle of damn nowhere. But I will do it just to not give money to the other companies. If Beneful really wants to discuss things they can take the crap out of their pet food. You can even write a special post about it when they do :) for a fee!

D4 said...

I used to buy my dog Beneful, that lasted about a year until you mentioned the whole not real food thing on one of your posts. I then read what Beneful had and made an immediate switch. I'm on a Salmon dog food thing right now, Costco based. It's not the best, but the first ingredients are real food so it's better than most of what's out there.

Imagine. Before Beneful I'd feed the poor things Pedigree.. that's.. how do they even MAKE food?

the Tsaritsa said...

I called and spoke with someone. It was kind of awkward. I was expecting to talk to a robot, but I got a real person. Uncommon these days!

G said...

I once watched a documentary on a guy that tastes dog food for a living... awful job

Hey Monkey Butt said...

We're feeding max pedigree or something, now I have to run to the kitchen and check the ingredients. Lawdy lawdy a new hobby :) Very good post though and it makes perfect sense! :)

Thank, Q said...

Big B brings the pain! Man, it's so cool when Twitter gets people's attention. Companies push their garbage products on you and smile. The sad thing about it is the stuff made for humans in the grocery stores are probably harmful, too. I'm pretty sure that these chickens that they raise to adults in a week aren't good for us.

Good job, B. Sticking it to The Man.

Brandon Lostinidaho said...

It gets better...

Tomorrow's post talks more about the twitter argument, and how I can actually help this multi-billion dollar company pull its head out of its ass.

If they'd let me, I'd actually help them. If not, I'll continue to slowly lead to their demise. Either/or, I'll have fun doing it.

Ellen Lloyd said...

Great thoughts! I never had a dog, and I might never have considered the cost-per feeding idea! I usually do all of my own food price comparisons by weight only, anyway. Maybe it's applicable to humans too? =P

Vanessa said...

Just wondering - what about Pro Plan or Nutro?

Chris Bird said...

I absolutely love this post. The commercial made me bawl like a baby, and the message made me laugh and clap. My ex was a vet tech and wouldn't feed our Great Dane anything but holistic or homemade. She ate 1.5 cups of food, twice a day, and she was 130 lbs. She lived until she was over 10, and that's a good, long life for a Dane.

Thank you so much for this post. I have to go and add you to my favourite blogs now.

Pee Lister said...

I love this post too. After living in Idaho Falls for many years, I recently moved to San Francisco. There's a holistic/health food pet store on my block. Your blog makes me laugh cause I'm always telling people that Idaho's 20 years behind - then I saw you said the same thing!

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