How premium is premium pet food?

If you’ve been in the grocery store or pet store lately, you may have noticed that the variety of pet foods available has expanded, and premium or special foods are the name of the game.

With all of these brands trying to get your attention, you may be seeking clarity on all things premium and pet food.

When it comes to dogs and cats in particular, the pet food choices available to you can be staggering. You may think that the premium foods are superior to their counterparts, but are they?

It varies. Some pet foods that are marketed as premium or ‘super premium’ are going to be healthier than what’s out there. Others are simply going to be marketed as such to take advantage of marketing value.

Convincing a customer that they are getting that tangible surplus value when it really is imaginary is important. Manufacturers know that consumers want luxury or high-value goods. Sometimes presenting a product as higher quality than average and creating that perception is enough to warrant the price (and profits).

Marketing invented making goods premium because when it comes to products, many people desire options and higher-end options at that. It’s happened with alcohol, with beauty, with fashion, with food, and more. Higher quality, higher-value goods are desirable, and desire in the free market translates to dollar intake!

In fact, a study done in 2007 by Cal Tech and Stanford University found that a product’s pricing and marketing can actually alter brain activity of the consumer and how they perceive a product as a result. Volunteers tasted the same wine in different packaging and reported back that the wine in the more expensive packaging tasted better. Price perception and packaging led to the belief in their heads that this wine would be more delicious and more premium.

So you can see why pet food packaging and marketing may have gone a similar route, especially with so much money to be made. Pet food sales pulled in over $23 billion in 2015, with $14.5 billion of that belonging to premium foods. There is a lot of money to be made in the premium market when it comes to pet food!

What should you do as a pet owner in the pet food aisle? For one, recognize that not all food manufacturers are going to have the same standards or quality control.

You may want to pass over a pet food brand you don’t know for a brand that’s steady and has the incentive to maintain a long-running track record. You might just want the highest-quality grain-free food you can find.

It’s smart to do research before shopping and figure out which products you think have essential nutrients, ingredients, and track records and base it off of that instead of marketing-influenced emotion.

Trust your gut and your eyes and you’ll likely be able to make the right choice when it comes to choosing the right food for your pet. Whether it’s grain-free or meat first, your pet deserves the very best.