Open a bag or can of food and easily feed Fido or Garfield. Not as easy is picking those bags or cans from the hundreds of brands displayed on the countless aisles at the pet store, superstore, or feed store. Even the supermarkets have generous brand offerings.
More amazing than the number of brands and marketing channels is the short time in which all of this change has occurred. Gen-X and Gen-Y readers may be unaware that prior to World War II, feeding commercial pet food was not the norm for American pet owners.
The Roaring ’20s and the Great Depression
Although pets were still primarily fed raw meat and table scraps supplemented with what they could forage or hunt, commercial pet food changed from just biscuits. A variety of dehydrated meals, pellets, and canned foods made from meat and grain mill scraps became available for those Americans wealthy enough to purchase pet food. Initially, these products, especially the canned, featured horsemeat. Public and congressional sentiment soon ended that and other meat scrap sources were found.
The Great Depression significantly impacted the commercial pet food industry. But the lack of regulation during this period allowed virtually anyone looking for an income source to brand a canned or bagged pet food. Canned foods especially expanded, capturing 91% of the still small commercial pet food market.
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