Blindsided: Farewell Natura Pet Foods, Hello Corporate Bottom Line?
I’ll give you the good news first: more and more people are making the choice to feed their companion animals natural, high quality foods. And that choice is one I fully support in my healing practice, both for my clients as well as for my own animals. A quality diet means more quality years together (see After the Pet Food Recall: why natural is the way to go).
The growth in demand for foods with healthy ingredients (human grade quality, organic, grain-free, free range proteins, etc.) has resulted in more manufacturers, and more choices. And one of those companies offering quality choices has been Natura, maker of Innova, Evo, California Natural, Healthwise, Mother Nature and Karma, many of which I have fed to my own animals over the years.
Now for the bad news: the growing popularity of natural pet foods has drawn the attention of giant conglomerate Proctor and Gamble (P&G). Sadly, they have now purchased Natura, much to the horror of many pet professionals as well as pet owners who feel blindsided by what they considered a sellout to corporate interests.
The possibility of the sale was a hot topic on an animal communicators group where I am a member. Information was shared regarding Proctor and Gamble’s’s history of testing on animals, alleged political alliances with special interest animal groups, as well as what could happen to Natura’s food based on past history. (In 1999 P&G purchased Iams/Eukanuba, and subsequently changed the formula to lesser quality ingredients.)
One group member shared information from her holistic vet who said that legally a pet food manufacturer could change the ingredients up to 5% within a possible six month period without changing the label. Which means that consumers may not realize that something had changed unless they are very well informed, or their animal has a reaction (which I have seen happen while working in a natural pet food store).
When the proposed sale became reality, I went to the site of a holistic vet whose opinion and information I trusted. I discovered that Dr. Jean Hofve, Little Big Cat, had written two scathing articles: Quality pet food choices dwindling – Bye Bye Natura and Done deal – Natura is now Procter and Gamble. Her information supported most of what I had heard from others, and, on the basis of P&G’s history of animal testing alone, Dr. Hofve was advocating a boycott of all P&G’s products, including their pet foods—a position I support.
And I’m not the only one. Internet scuttlebutt suggests that many natural pet food stores are refusing to carry any of the brands now owned by P&G.
Just this week I was at Next to Nature, a small local Seattle area chain, and they had set up an entire aisle devoted to the brands previously named, along with a prominently posted sign that detailed their future plans and reasons for not carrying Natura products—reasons that included P&G’s history of testing products on animals.
The change is not immediate, Next to Nature is giving customers needed time to transition to another food. For now they are suggesting that Canadian-manufactured Orijen may be a good substitute since they use similar proteins in their formula.
Others favor Taste of the Wild, rated as a quality food in the February issue of Whole Dog Journal’s yearly list of 2010 Approved Dry Foods (Orijen also made the list, and my animals, who I consider experts, like both foods).
In that same issue (prior to the proposed sale of Natura to Proctor and Gamble), Whole Dog Journal asked the million dollar question, “Can corporate titans produce foods of the same quality as the little ‘boutique’ companies that were founded on the concept of producing only the very best, healthiest dog foods?”
Well, Proctor and Gamble, can you? Perhaps more to the point—will you?
What do you think?
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A WILD WAY TO HEAL
Rose De Dan, Wild Reiki and Shamanic Healing LLC, is an animal communicator, Reiki Master Teacher, shamanic energy healer, and author. Her classes, sessions and ceremonial work are inspired by wild and domestic animals who have issued a call to action for personal and global healing.
Her book Tails of a Healer: Animals, Reiki and Shamanism features heartwarming stories about animals and their role in her evolution as an energy worker and shamanic healer.
Many years ago I spoke with the owner of Natura when I was looking for business opportunities. He was happy to talk with me about out of the box ideas for my representing his line of dog food, which I used to feed my dogs. (They have switched to raw diet as of 2006.)
Working as a pet siter and being active in the rescue and dog world in general, I’ve met a lot of animals with all sorts of health conditions,one of which is IBD, usually caused by food allergies, and which can wind up to be devastating if not resolved.
Natura’s California Natural line helped thousands of dogs who suffered from food allergies – for those who do not wish to feed raw (which would have the same or better overall results) this means either a game of “wait and see how my dog reacts” to a possible change in the food’s formula or ingredients, or searching for another food and experiencing the ups and downs of the effects of changing foods, which for dogs with IBD is a bit more complicated than for those without food allergies. (A wide variety in the diet helps combat allergies which is another great reason to feed raw.)
I worry about owners who may not be aware of the buyout by P&G and the effects their dogs may suffer – especially since a 5% change in formula and/or ingredients could have serious effects on them.
In the end, I did not wind up as a rep for Natura, but I’ll always remember my conversation with the company’s owner (whose name I confess I’ve forgotten by now)and how impressed I was with his integrity and dedication to providing a quality product. I have a difficult time understanding how he could possibly sell out to a company like P&G. Kind of shakes my faith in humanity.
Hi Beth, thanks for sharing your information. I am hoping that comments like yours will help others with possible challenges to their animals.
I did not mention this in the article, but another member of the animal communicator’s group shared that she had a contact who knew the son of the founder of Natura. That person reported that both son and owner were very, very unhappy about this deal. It seems that the other three partners were the ones responsible for the decision. I hope this information helps restore your faith in humanity (-:
As someone who is also passionate about caring for animals, and about maintaining integrity in my business, I feel for the founder. I can’t imagine what it must be like to see all that you cared about and built up over the years in jeopardy.
It is true all of the choices are dwindling. I was informed by my local merchant that Wellness and Solid Gold brands, two I have always trusted in, had gone corporate and changed formulas. Thanks for keeping us in the loop, Rose. It does get more difficult everyday to choose a high quality food.
No, say it’s not so! Solid Gold was one of the first natural pet foods! I had not heard this, thanks for bringing it to my attention, will look into it.
I already had problems with Innova which we had switched to for a couple of months in the Spring of 2010.(Too much salt for one dog resulting in shaking/kidney problems and some of the other dogs started having loose stools after being on it a while.) So we went back to Timberwolf which we’ve used for years without problems, knock on wood.
To keep tabs on changes, I cut out the ingredients labels of the two flavors we use, date them, and check for changes periodically. Thank you for the information Rose, it’s greatly appreciated.
P.S. Aside from the animal testing issue, I did a post on one of my blogs called “Score Your Dog Food” if that helps anyone. I think it came from Whole Dog Journal Originally – can’t remember.
the dog foods that we use are certified organic as we do not want to use those dog foods contaminated with chemicals”,-
Glad to hear it, your dog will definitely benefit!