Pet Food Is Becoming More Like Human Food

By Mike Pomranz |

© Philip Rostron/Masterfile/Corbis

Pets don’t choose what they eat. Sure, they can decide if a certain type of pet food is to their liking or not, but they’re not the ones walking through store aisles and reading can labels. Couple that with a new generation’s changing attitudes toward their pets and it’s easy to see why pet foods these days have more in common with human food than they used to.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch recently went to the Nestle Purina research center in the newspaper’s home city to look into the changes a major pet food player like Purina is making to their offerings. As they point out, pet food flavors that older Americans might find absurd—like “Rotisserie Chicken,” “Filet Mignon” or “Tuscan Style Medley"—are now commonplace. “We want to have products that appeal to the owner,” said chef Amanda Hassner, who works for Purina developing new pet foods. “It can’t look or smell horrible to the person.”

But why is that? Owners aren’t the ones eating these foods. Shouldn’t we be more concerned about what our pets want? According to the research group Euromonitor International, once again, those pesky millennials are to blame. “This group tends to humanize their pets more than other generations and are willing to spend on higher-quality pet food,” a report from the firm claims. Maybe the Internet has led everyone to think their cat has star potential? If Grumpy Cat can get a book deal, why not your lazy cat who is currently hiding in an empty Amazon box?

The thing is, even Hassner openly admits pets “don’t eat like us.” Mike Sagman, who runs the website Dog Food Advisor, agrees. “They spend an awful lot of time trying to make food seem appealing to the person pushing the basket down the aisle,” he told the Post-Dispatch, but when it comes down to it, he says dogs don’t care about the same things humans do.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with loving your pet and wanting him to have the best food. But as anyone who has ever been to Subway can tell you, just because something is labeled “Tuscan” doesn’t mean it’s gourmet.

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