In PetSmart’s Buy a Bag, Give a Meal program, the pet specialty retailer will match every bag of dog or cat food purchased online and in US, Canada and Puerto Rico stores with a donation of a meal to a pet served by pet shelters, animal welfare organizations and food banks. The philanthropic effort marks the celebration of PetSmart’s thirtieth anniversary.

PetSmart expects to contribute more than 60 million meals under this philanthropic program, which is the pet specialty retailer’s biggest philanthropic campaign in its 30-year history. The program will run March 1 to December 31, 2017.

PetSmart’s Buy a Bag, Give a Meal program includes all brands and sizes of dog and cat food bags purchased at the 1,500-plus PetSmart pet specialty retail stores, as well as online at PetSmart.com and PetSmart.ca. Nonprofit partner PetSmart Charities plans to collaborate with national nonprofits to help effectively distribute the pet food directly to pets in need.

“Throughout 2017, every time pet parents purchase any bag of dog or cat food in our stores or online, they can rest assured they are also helping feed pets in need,” said Eran Cohen, chief customer experience officer, PetSmart. “When their pets eat, pets in need eat, too. It’s that simple.”

Pet shelters lack dog and cat food

According to David Haworth, DVM, Ph.D., president of PetSmart Charities, up to 7 million pets enter shelters every year across North America. According to a recent PetSmart Charities survey involving nearly 1,800 of its animal welfare partners across North America, only 20 percent of these organizations receive pet food donations and about 8 percent are on contract with pet food brands to receive subsidized pet food. 

As well, Haworth noted not all pets in need live at shelters and many are with their families, who are served by food banks and pantries. Pet food is a rare offering in human food bank programs and is not an eligible item for purchase through most food assistance programs. As a result some families in need often sacrifice their own food, feeding their beloved pets human food to ensure they have something to eat.

Consumers’ ethical demands impacting pet food marketing

A pet food industry analyst believes that mission-based marketing is one of the strongest trends in dog and cat food consumers’ demands. Consumers want to know what a pet food company stands for ideologically, said Eric Pierce, director of business insights at New Hope Network, at Petfood Forum 2016.

People want to know that they have helped a specific cause just by buying their pet food, said Pierce. In a crowded market of natural pet food claims, a pet food company’s philanthropic efforts can help them stand out to pet food consumers.

Involvement with positive causes can also help pet food brands build consumer trust, said Pierce. In other words, a company’s charitable actions can speak louder than marketing words.

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