Tag Archives: WalMart

We Tested it On You, So It’s Probably OK for Your Pet

I had the pleasure of attending a brand new trade show – Petfood 2.0 – in Chicago recently.

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Not surprisingly, this show is still getting its furry legs under it – – a very manageable group of 35 disparate exhibitors made for a quick and interesting, if not yet cohesive, experience.

Overall, though, a larger theme presented itself:
Following thousands of years of dogs serving man, the tables have turned.
Man now serves dog.

Exhibit 1:  Hemp for Pets.

Now available from our friends at HempMeds, is a line of products made from hemp to benefit your pets.  aNew™ Pet Nutrition‘s products provide essential fatty acids (EFA – – Omega-3 and -6) and are made from a blend of hemp seed oil and raw hemp stalk oil (which is rich in cannabidiol – CBD).  EFAs, as we know, are highly beneficial – – just don’t ask the industry to agree on what the top benefits are.

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This innovation in pet health could not have been possible without the committed testing of hemp products by millions of Americans in the 1960s and 1970s.  So while the outcome of all that testing is up for discussion, your cat or dog is possibly benefiting now from what you did in college then.

OK, that’s not accurate.

While hemp is illegal to grow in the US, it is perfectly legal to import any part of the hemp plant in all 50 states.
And while the prospect of Fifi or Rover lying on his or her back contemplating the ceiling tiles for hours on end and giggling is intriguing, these products contain virtually no THC – the active ingredient that makes marijuana psychoactive.

Although it would be interesting to see if Nigel would behave any differently with the munchies.  Doubtful.

Hempmeds

Exhibit 2:   Functional ingredients for pets – – it worked on Man, so it’s probably safe for Rover.

We long ago realized that we could do better than feeding our pets Ol’ Roy (WalMart).  Thus emerged added value feed (e.g. Iams, Eukanuba, Science Diet, etc), offering different formulas for large breeds, older pets, etc. as well as some medical needs.

Meanwhile, human foods and beverages have increasingly been stuffed with a dizzying array of functional ingredients, many of which have no empirical basis in efficacy.  But we humans have shown that we’re willing to buy them anyway.  What did Charles Revson say about hope?

Based on this massively-scaled test market on mankind, it apparently has been deemed that animal-kind is now ready to safely ingest all sorts of functional ingredients that may or may not actually ever benefit them.

Petfood2.0

Incorporating things like ancient grains, fiber, medium-chain triglycerides, probiotics and ionic trace minerals, your pet can now get benefits heretofore only considered for the human species (notwithstanding hairballs and a healthy coat).

One company, PetNaturals of Vermont, offers products to address the following areas:
– Agility, Antioxidant, Bladder Support, Breath, Calming, Daily Multivitamin, Digestion, Hip & Joint, Immunity, Slim-down, Urine pH balance (really – to avoid yellow spots on the lawn), Periodontal health, Fecal function, and Skin/Coat health.

You dog and cat owners will probably recognize some of the benefit areas in the products below.

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We live in a world where the things we eat promise magical powers to fix whatever marketers insist needs fixing.  And regardless of the effectiveness, manufacturers have made a tidy business catering to hope.

Now, due to the significant sacrifice, expense and effort expended in testing on humans, our pets will soon be able to have their diets enhanced, and your wallet may end up just a little lighter.  So when your pet looks up as if to say ‘Thanks, Man’, now you know what’s going through that little brain.

I have no doubt that many of these ingredients can provide real benefits to some of the 150 million dogs and cats out there.

Except I’m not believing anything that promises intelligence to an Irish Setter.

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WalMart Sets Nutrition Back 50 Years With These Spots

I don’t remember where I was when I saw the first of these spots, but it smacked me upside the head like a pouch of pasteurized cheese food product.

In the sausage-making process wherein retailers devise merchandising schemes and then pressure manufacturers to fund them, WalMart seems to have inadvertently sewn together a nutritional monster of an advertisement (two, actually).

The tagline on the spots: “Get a Smarter Start to School” couldn’t be more off the mark.

These ads take us back to a time when nutrition is an afterthought at best, and where the convenience of instant food is paramount.  
Sorry, but quick + non-nutritious ≠ smart.

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The setup:

A typical impossibly lovely and fit TV family is gathering before dinner and Mom asks what they want.  Of course the young kids, being kids, throw the long ball by asking for their favorite processed foods:  Hot Pockets and Chef Boyardee.  The husband, being, well, a guy, goes to his mental bacon file and all he can come up with is…Bacon Mac and Cheese.
Mom, the savvy and conscientious gatekeeper, decides she can easily avoid hassle and effort by immediately capitulating; three package openings, three microwave beeps and a token salad later, dinner is served.  Mom is hero.

No problem, right?  Well, let’s assess the nutritional damage (Daily limits according to Netrition.com).

WalMartDinnerNutritionals

(We’ve assumed the young lady would eat one Hot Pocket, the young man would eat one can of Mini Ravioli and Dad would eat until interrupted by dessert).

In terms of calories, these are not horrible (but also don’t include other things served with dinner).  In the case of protein, they perform well (particularly Dad’s, because bacon).  On the other hand they provide a fairly heavy dose of saturated fat, carbs and sodium.  And not much fiber.  So nutritionally, this isn’t particularly ‘smart’, and in restaurant terms, steers more toward Bloomin’ Onion than Chez Panisse.  It is definitely not a model for a balanced, nutritious meal.

More insidious is the positioning of convenience above everything, where instant food, regardless of its merits, is the solution to ‘what’s for dinner’.  The entire family seems to have completely slept through years of nutritional messaging, PSAs and school programs, and I’m guessing Michelle Obama would not endorse this spot.
The audience gets a great reinforcement of instant food as good habit, and a great opportunity to model simple, nutritious eating is missed.  Not good.

There is a breakfast companion ad in this campaign, where the featured items are Froot Loops, Frosted Flakes and Jimmy Dean’s Pancakes and Sausage (on a stick).  No additional comments necessary, except if the same family is bookending its day with WalMart’s meal suggestions, that puts a LOT of pressure on lunch.

On the other hand, it’s probably not easy to match program participants to be nutritionally balanced.  And at the end of the day, business is business.

Check out this Kraft Mac & Cheese ad from the 1950s, and hang in there for the hot dog meal suggestion.

We have some significant weight/health issues in this country, and I wish we could do better.