Big Pet Food and Social Media

Neal:[music]: Hey everybody, it's Neal from Growlies. I'm wearing my mask. I'm not wearing my glasses because if I wear my mask, I can't see out of my glasses. They've got to fix that. They've got to figure out how to make a mask that's glasses friendly.

Today, I want to talk a little bit about big pet food marketing. I'm a frequenter of a website. On that website is a community for dogs and dog owners and there's communities for all sorts of pets, your dog, your cat, your ferret, your hedgehog, your whatever. There's a community on that website for those people. In that community, if you mentioned- like in the dog's community, for instance, if you mentioned raw pet food, you will be attacked. You will be attacked and you will be told that you're not caring for your pet correctly, and that you don't know enough and that the world doesn't know enough and that there's only anecdotal information. All of that is a lie.

I'll tell you why. There's actually quite a few studies now that show the fresh foods are better than processed foods. That's actually not an argument that's even reasonable anymore.

They will also tell you it's unbalanced and if you're trying to do it yourself, and all you're doing is ground beef, it is unbalanced. But there's no magic to it though. It's not hard to educate yourself in some of the basics. I can say again, that's probably not true. It may be a little unbalanced, but when was the last time I ate a balanced meal, I don't think I've ever had one in my life. Mainly because I don't let companies that make chocolate bars dictate my nutrition.

I responded to somebody saying how poisonous those environments have become because I actually run one of the communities on that website for raw pet food. Of course, duh, right? [chuckles] Always assume under the mask is a smile by the way. I'm going to read you one of the responses I made to somebody complaining about how they were attacked when they mentioned fresh foods in a community about dogs.

I said, "I'm pro-vet." I'm pro-vet because I need a good vet in order to care for my animal, but I need a good vet who aligns with my values. I don't want a vet who doesn't take off his white coat in order to tell me that I need to start buying his pet food because they've stopped being vet at that point and become a salesperson and they should take off the white coat to let you know, they're no longer giving veterinary advice, they're selling you food.

I'm pro dog, I'm pro cat, I'm pro ferret and I'm pro hedgehog. I think all of those pet carnivores or insectivores that we have are worthy companions and I loved every one I've ever met.

"I think fresh foods make sense." They're the healthiest option that I can both consume and offer to my pet or any family member. Fresh foods make more sense than processed foods every time. "I don't believe that a candy bar company or a multinational corporation has my best interest at heart." I can't believe that a company like Mars or Nestlé or Colgate-Palmolive think that Neal is important. Their outcomes have nothing (to do with)... My health, as far as they're concerned, is an externality. It's external to their company, has nothing to do with them. It's my responsibility and they're right.

"I don't believe they have my best interests at heart." I understand they don't want to harm their consumer. They don't want to harm their customer. That's not their goal. Their goal is not to harm humans, their goal is not to harm dogs, their goal is not to harm cats. That may be the outcome sometimes, but that is not the goal.

"For those in leadership roles at these companies, ultimately I believe the pursuit of a short term fiduciary responsibility over long term nutritional needs of my pet win out in that conversation."

I'm going to take this off because nobody's in the store.

Every time if you're talking to the VP of Pepsi or Coke or the VP of Walmart or any large corporation, they could choose the healthier option that makes them less money when offering products or services to us or they could choose the more profitable item that's not necessarily as healthy and good for them. They're going to offer the one that makes them the most money in that quarter, because they're quarterly driven. That's a result of the stock market. Every three months they have to give a report as to their profitability and the stock market either rewards or punishes them based on their numbers.

"I believe that the short term fiduciary responsibilities over the long-term nutritional needs of my pet win out in their conversation. We all know that in pursuit of these short term fiduciary responsibility, that they throw millions of dollars at both building and protecting those brands."

The brands, you know them all, your Purina, your Blue Buffalo, your-- I can't even remember the names of the kibbles anymore. It's been so many years since I had anything to do with them.

Emma: Acana.

Neal: Acana, thank you very much, the lovely Emma.

"They spend a lot of money, both building and protecting those brands, it would be shortsighted and naive to think they're not active on important web platforms," that you participate in like Facebook, Reddit, Google, Yahoo or any of the places where you find thousands of people having conversations, you will find marketers everywhere. It would be naive if you thought they weren't there because they spend millions of dollars a year protecting those brands, you can bet that some of the voices you hear are from the people who are being paid by them. ,

"I suspect they spend large amounts throughout all pet centered businesses to build and protect their brands. This likely includes schools, medical clinics, Mars and Nestlé have both invested in clinics." Like Mars is a well-known owner of VCA and Banfield. We have many VCA pet clinics here. They are owned by the pet food company. They are (often) not owned by the veterinarian who you consult with. "sporting events, recreation, training, rescue, trade events,"

Like I try to make it down to SuperZoo every couple of years. You know they're all involved in that and they're major contributors to those organizations. "Insurance, genetic testing, labs on and on and on." Anything that has to do with pets they are spending some money in order to be involved and control the narrative that you hear.

"The point is that they mostly control the narrative," on every platform, every social platform that you are involved in today. In this case, it was Reddit. "It's a reflection of those large budgets doing what they've done." The poison atmosphere against fresh foods-- This is my point here, I stumbled over. The poison environment about fresh foods in a sub that's dedicated to dogs, cats, hedgehogs, ferrets, whatever, all that poison is a direct result of 50 years of marketing by a (set of) companies that doesn't want you making your own food at home, neither for your wife, your husband, your children, your partner, anything. They don't want you to making at home. They want you to go out and buy it, ready-made, by them for them and they will do what marketing they can to encourage that.

I retail goods, I've worked with companies who do some of this stuff but I get to choose as the owner of the store, what comes in and the quality of those goods I review that on a regular basis. I think that, ultimately- I don't want to keep going here because I'm at my 10-minute mark, but ultimately I think it's up to you to decide who's real and who's not. It's up to you to decide who's being genuine and who's got a monetary reason. I have a monetary reason, but I'm being very upfront with it. I run a store. There it is. There's my store. I run a store and I sell products I believe in. That's it. It's no magic to that, this is what I do. I'm not a multi-billion dollar company and I'm not on social media telling you that you're going to kill your dog if you feed kibble, because I don't believe that's true. I also don't believe it's a healthy diet and that there's long-term consequences to that that you could easily mitigate by using fresh foods.

However, I think we have to be aware that when we're reading this stuff, when we're reading this information, that there is a side, there is budgets out there to make you hear their side and think their side makes more sense even though it's counter-intuitive, that fresh foods are less healthy than processed food diets. That's just not true. It makes no sense because it's nonsensical, but you hear it so regularly that so many people believe it. Don't believe it, don't-- What? Don't believe the hype. I can't remember. It's from when I was youth. It's some kind of rap band (Public Enemy), don't believe the hype. Don't believe the hype. It's just hype, fresh foods make more sense. Feed fresh foods. Have a good one. Thanks for watching, Neal out.