Pet food domination: The Big Three Corporations

August 23, 2014   |   By David Jackson,

Pet food domination: The Big Three Corporations

We all know there are plenty of pet food options out there. All About Dog Food currently features well over 250 brands of dog foods and treats that are available in the UK and still has many more to go. Incredibly though, almost 90% of all pet food sales in the UK are from just three companies. Through relentless marketing and wide spread buy-outs, 'The Big Three' corporations have come to dominate and define pet food in the UK and across the world.

Who are 'The Big Three'?

Unless you've been living (and shopping) in a cave, you will certainly have heard of each of pet food's big three corporations but what you might not know is that, between them, they own almost all of the UK's best known pet food brands.

  • Mars: Pedigree, Cesar, Chappi, Frolic, Kitekat, Pal, Nutro, Greenies, James Wellbeloved, Royal Canin, Sheba, Whiskas.
  • Nestle: Bakers, Beneful, Beta, Bonio, Felix, Friskies, Just Right, ProPlan, Purina One, Purina Veterinary Diets, Winalot.
  • Colgate-Palmolive: Hills Science Plan, Hills Prescription Diets.

But how have these three companies come to control the pet food market so completely? It must be because their products are so good, right? Unfortunately not...

Pet food domination

The problem is that, for many pet owners, The Big Three are pet food. They are the only companies rich enough to have TV advertising and the only ones that can afford the terms imposed by supermarkets. For the millions of pet owners that never step inside a dedicated pet shop and never read specialist pet magazines, the other brands may as well not exist.

But it doesn't end there. The Big Three aren't content with just main-stream dominance. By buying out the most successful independent brands and effectively inventing veterinary diets, the corporations have even taken a large bite of the pet shop and veterinary market. 9 out of 10 vets now recommend foods from one of the big three. The corporations have long understood the importance of veterinary recommendations and have spent millions on securing their positions as the vets' diet of choice with 'sponsored' nutritional modules at veterinary college and substancial monitory incentives for veterinary practices.

With so much expenditure on advertising, supermarket special offers and retailer incentives, you might think there would be less money to spend on ingredients and in many cases you would be right. One look through the ingredients lists of the UK's two biggest dog food brands, Pedigree and Bakers, clearly shows that marketing is a lot more important to a brand's success than the quality of the products. Of course, when your customers have nowhere else to go, quality can afford to take a back seat.

The fight back

Of course, when your pet's health doesn't come first, there is bound to be a backlash. Many retailers are now scaling back on their big three brands and one shop, Scampers Natural Pet Care in Soham is leading likeminded pet-shops in a full-scale boycott of big three brands! Scampers have spent much of the last year replacing all of the big three brands with a wide range top-notch independent pet food brands from around the UK and beyond.

The fact is that the big three are just companies and like all companies, they are answerable to their customers. Every time a pet owner moves from a low grade food to a good quality diet, it increases the pressure on the manufacturers of low quality foods to change their ways and to finally put our pets first.


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Jeff Allen a year ago

Pity that Lily’s Kitchen has sold out to Nestle. We’re not buying there products any longer as a result.

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Penny Whitehouse 4 years ago

Where does "All about Dog Food" get its funding? And didn't you move off-shore to dodge legal action?

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All About Dog Food Penny Whitehouse 4 years ago

Hi Penny and thanks for posting. The site doesn't make a lot of money but what it does make primarily comes from the 'buy online' links you can find on most of our product listings and the adverts, like the one on the right of this page. The store finder also generates a little money as retailers can opt to pay for a premium listing rather than stick with their basic free option. You can find a bit more info on our about us page here: https://www.allaboutdogfood...And interesting theory about why I moved to Finland. Could you tell me what legal action that would be? The truth is sadly much less exciting. You can find it here: https://www.allaboutdogfood...

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JeffJeff Penny Whitehouse 4 years ago

that is pretty irresponsible to post an accusation without linking evidence.

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Penny Whitehouse JeffJeff 4 years ago

I asked the question.

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JeffJeff Penny Whitehouse 3 years ago

it was a loaded question and you know it. like Fox News ends an accusation with 'or did they?'

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Tony.p 7 years ago

why is this site having a go at the big 4,yet in its buy food section,shows you recommended retailers for it????????

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All About Dog Food Tony.p 7 years ago

Hi Tony. Good question. Obviously we're not fans of the way the big 4 approach pet nutrition but on the directory and review pages, it is important that we are as impartial and even handed as possible. That is why all foods, regardless of their quality or marketing budgets, are given the same presence and why, if a visitor does want to buy any particular food, we try to direct them to a reputable retailer regardless of our personal feelings about the manufacturer or the product. I hope that makes sense.

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Tony.p 7 years ago

When we first got our sheltie,he was on royal canin puppy.having red a lot of reviews,and the product recall sections,I could not believe what nightmares I was reading about,(cancers,renal failure,)etc,all in relatively young dogs,I lost my last sheltie at 8.5yrs,to renal failure,he was fed on imams,then royal canin renal.(at the vets advice,),never new pup, Chester,12 months old now,is fed on orijin.all natural food,and he is thriving.when I asked our new vet about royal canin I thought he was quite sheepish with his reply.enough said I thought.

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Sharon 7 years ago

The big brands cover up a multitude of sins. Our dogs are living shorter lives,more illnesses.
I use only foods that have the sticker "real dog food"
Big companies hood wink you to believe they only use the best. Public outcry if they only new.

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artilsminiz 8 years ago

Canine Health Concern have carried out a lot of research and campaigning on this subject.

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LocalNumberFife 8 years ago

Another great article!It is so refreshing to see a site trying to ensure a level playing field for both the small manufacturer and the truly independent retailer in the struggle against the 'big four'. Please keep up the good work!

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thomas Duffy 8 years ago

just bought a Lab/Springer cross bred and Iam feeding him Jolly's lifestage puppy food have any body any idea how good /bad this is

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