The Nestle Purina Company announced plans last week to purchase the Merrick PetCare Company, who manufactures the Merrick line of pet foods. Merrick is currently based out of Amarillo, Texas, and makes some of the top-selling organic and grain-free dog food. Merrick also makes Castor & Pollux and Whole Earth Farms brands.
What does this mean to you if you feed Merrick brand foods? Nestle Purina makes Beneful, Dog Chow, and Purina One. The number one ingredient in these foods is corn—a cheap filler that provides little to no nutrition to dogs. Nestle Purina’s Beneful is also responsible for one of the largest recalls in recent history with a class-action suit of 3,000 reported complaints of illness or death, in addition to the recall of their Waggin’ Treats brand that caused illness or death to nearly 1,000 reported pets. While there are regulations by the FDA on advertising or marketing, the same case does not apply to pet foods. Calling Beneful “healthy and a perfect balance of healthful ingredients, quality nutrition, and superb taste” could not be further from the truth. Unless you consider artificial flavors, sweeteners, and colors “healthful.” Or perhaps you are under the impression that spraying the food with rendered fat is acceptable to achieve “superb taste?” Keep in mind this is the same company taking over one of the fastest growing organic pet food brands.
Under the Merrick family, the Merrick pet food line uses high-quality ingredients, often sourcing natural and organic sources. Of course the price reflects this level of quality, but pet owners are happy to pay the price for a product built on integrity and consistency. Although Nestle Purina claims that no changes are planned for the Merrick brand, don’t count on it. If Nestle Purina’s low-quality, outsourced (in China) ingredients are any indication of the level of care they put into their pet foods, it’s not unreasonable to assume the reputation that Merrick has earned for superiority will likely decline, enabling Nestle Purina to increase in profits while still charging a premium price for a non-premium food.