We've recently come across a massive secret in the pet industry. And we're not keeping it to ourselves…
It all started when Yenko and I were at a Sierra in Wyoming. Suddenly, Yenko was carrying a new version of his favorite plush turtle, so I purchased it. When I looked closer at the turtle, I noticed it was the same, but with some differences in labeling. Then I finally compared the two; it was the same turtle, yet, a different brand. If you've ever bought a dog toy, treat, or food product that looks eerily similar to others on the market, chances are you've encountered the fascinating world of labeling.
The pet industry is growing its trend of "labeling" products. White labeling and private labeling are standard practices. Private labeling involves purchasing a product from a manufacturer (like a co-packer) and branding it as their own. These products are customized to some extent by the purchasing business. White labeling is when companies take products from manufacturers, put their labels on them, and sell them as their own. In the context of pet products, private-labeled dog food, for example, might still be formulated by the manufacturer, but the purchasing company has more control over certain aspects of the development.
Let's explore these practices, unravel their secrets, and learn how it impacts the products we share with our beloved pets.
Labeled pet products can come from various sources. Some manufacturers specialize in white-labeling pet products, while others may produce branded products. The products can be made in different countries, depending on the manufacturer.
Labeling allows companies to offer a diverse product line without investing in product development and manufacturing while focusing on building a unique brand identity through packaging and marketing. This means creating products sold under a pet retailer's or other company's brand name in the pet industry. It can also help companies quickly expand their product line, gain more control over their brand, and test new products in the market without committing to a large production run.
Spotting private and white-labeled pet products requires a keen eye for detail. Begin by looking at the branding and packaging. With private labeling, look for products with a brand name not recognizable elsewhere; the packaging might be unique to a specific retailer or distributor. While white-labeled products have generic packaging with minimal branding, allowing retailers to add their labels. Then move to the actual product label; private labeling might not display manufacturer details, which is unfortunate. However, with white labeling, manufacturer information is more likely to be provided as it's the original producer. Consider where you are shopping. Some retailers sell exclusive pet products with private labeling, while white-label products can be found across multiple retailers.
Here are some examples of labeled pet products:
Food and Treats: Many pet food brands, whether raw, fresh, or kibble, label their food from third-party manufacturers. Think of Wag for Amazon as an example.
Toys: Pet retailers often sell PetSafe or TRIXIE Pet Products-branded pet toys under their labels.
Pet Gear like leashes, harnesses, and collars: Several brands, like Petsmart under the Kong licensing, white label their items from third-party manufacturers.
Grooming products: Earthbath offers a private label program for businesses to purchase shampoo in bulk and rebrand it with their logo and packaging.
Remember that labeling is not inherently negative. Brand transparency and honesty are crucial. And as you can see, labeling doesn't 100% come from big manufacturers; sometimes, it can be small businesses that are great at producing products but need more skills or funds to invest in distributing their products so they make connections with other companies with the skills required to spread their product, even at the risk of not being the known brand.
As responsible dog parents, it's natural to be concerned about product quality and safety when encountering labeled items. One of the most significant dangers of labeling is that it can lead to a lack of transparency and accountability. When a company labels a product, it could leave us in the dark about the products we bring into our homes. Did the company use safe materials? Was it made in a factory with fair working conditions? These are essential questions that labeling can leave unanswered.
The good news is that reputable companies that engage in labeling prioritize rigorous testing and quality control to meet industry standards. Choosing pet brands that prioritize your furry companion's quality, safety, and nutritional needs is essential. Look for brands that disclose the sourcing and manufacturing processes transparently to ensure you make informed choices for your furry friend. When it comes to food and treats, research where the protein comes from and how and where it is processed to make an informed decision.
As consumers, we hold the power to influence the pet industry positively. By supporting brands prioritizing transparency, sustainability, and responsible sourcing, we can drive positive change and encourage companies to be more forthcoming about their manufacturing practices.
Together, we can create a thriving pet industry that prioritizes the well-being of our pets above all else.