A recent survey that was done by Capgemini Research Institute showed that sustainability is more important than brand recognition. Here is a brief summary:
“Sustainability concerns are now influencing consumer behavior among more than half the population: 53% of consumers overall and 57% in the 18-24 age group have switched to lesser known brands because they were sustainable. More than half of consumers (52%) say that they share an emotional connection with products or organizations that they perceive as sustainable. 64% say that buying sustainable products makes them feel happy about their purchases (this reaches 72% in the 25-35 age group).” https://www.capgemini.com/news/sustainability-in-cpr/
I personally have not been one to venture from that which I already had seen or become accustomed too, however, this study shows that the majority of consumers will SWITCH to a product that was sustainable even if it isn’t well known. Within the pet food industry, companies have made it their mission to talk about sustainability and give the idea to customers that they are sustainable, or at least making a sustainable effort. The big question is whether or not sustainability efforts are just lip service or actual missions these companies truly care about.
Let me explain the disconnect.
The vast majority of companies have made it a focus to look at the broad areas of sustainability like power and water used in manufacturing plants, and recyclable packaging with zero waste. These items are great! Every company should be focusing on these areas. These sustainability efforts will help preserve this beautiful planet, but there is so much more that can be done. One aspect sustainability efforts have lacked in are on the actual ingredients that go into making pet food. While sustainable fishing is the first focus of many companies, there are typically 15+ other ingredients that could and should be focused on as well. There is roughly 54 Billion lbs. of pet food that is globally packaged each year. https://www.petfoodprocessing.net/articles/13587-global-pet-food-production-up-4-overall-feed-falls-1-in-2019 If each ingredient were to be sourced sustainably the impact could be astronomical.
For example, Powdered Cellulose is a product that is widely used in pet food as a functional fiber ingredient. Estimates would say there is 80 million pounds used annually within the industry. It is used in hairball control, weight management, dental chews and many other products. However, powdered cellulose comes from the pulp and paper industry which is the 5th largest polluter in the world. The great part to this story is that the ingredient MFiber (Miscanthus Grass) can be substituted for powdered cellulose and is on average 87% more sustainable. A recent life cycle analysis showed that if all 80 million lbs. of powdered cellulose were converted to MFiber, it would save 82,000+ barrels of oil and could power over 13,000+ homes for 1 year. It would cut greenhouse gas emissions the equivalent of taking 95 MILLION cars off the road for a year. This change would save over 12.2 BILLION gallons of water annually. This is enough water for 2 million people to shower daily for a year!
This is just one ingredient change. Just imagine if all ingredients were explored and alternatives were found that had an impact like MFiber does. This world is worth the effort and we all can do better.