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American Pride: 12 ‘Made in the USA’ Pet Brands to Keep on Your Radar

Glenn Polyn//July 1, 2024//

American Pride: 12 ‘Made in the USA’ Pet Brands to Keep on Your Radar

Glenn Polyn //July 1, 2024//

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The shelves in pet stores have always been colorful, but it’s likely that customers are now seeing more red, white and blue this month. More than a trend, the “Made in the U.S.A.” phenomenon is not new to the industry, with many tracing its birth back to the melamine recalls of 2007. While the “Made in USA” trend may have been sparked by safety and health concerns, there are many reasons manufacturers may choose to make their products domestically or even locally.

Labels and logos calling out a product being “Made in U.S.A.” is often synonymous with superior craftsmanship, stringent quality controls and a commitment to ethical production practices. For pet retailers, this means an opportunity to offer products that resonate with consumers on a deeper level, building trust and loyalty in the process.

Manufacturers are certainly responding to these consumer attitudes, as “Made in the U.S.A.” has become a noteworthy selling point. If a product is U.S. made, it’s more than likely that this fact will be clearly indicated — even highlighted — on its packaging.

Being made in the U.S. remains a big deal to consumers, and retailers should consider applying their own store signage at shelf to increase sales. These can include “Made in the USA,” “American Made,” “True American Quality” and “Produced in the USA” and can be accompanied by emblems of Lady Liberty or Old Glory.

Pet Age checked in with 12 pet product manufacturers that should be on a retailer’s radar. They’re American brands crafting pet essentials that are not only innovative and functional but also proudly flying the U.S. flag. This marketing and devotion to American-made products is twofold: It meets pet parents’ preferences while also providing retailers with a sense of security.

 

Annamaet

By making all its products in the U.S.A., Pennsylvania-based Annamaet is able to maintain strict standards of quality control so it can produce the highest quality of pet food and supplements possible.

“Producing Annamaet in the U.S.A. also allows us to use the cleaner manufacturing practices and health and safety regulations that are part of the Food Safety Modernization Act.,” noted Alex Downey, Annamaet’s manager of business development. “Additionally, we have access to many high-quality raw materials from the U.S.A.”

While a large majority of ingredients that Annamaet sources are from the United States, Downey says some ingredients need to be sourced outside the U.S.A. for Annamaet to include the best quality ingredients. In addition, the brand’s plant is APHIS EU Certified (European Union), and European laws are much stricter about imported pet foods than in the U.S.

“For example, to be certified, we can’t use U.S. lamb because of scrapie [a disease similar to mad cow in beef] found in sheep in the U.S., so it must come from New Zealand as they are a scrapie-free country,” Downey noted. “We also cannot use U.S. venison because of chronic wasting disease found in deer here in the U.S., so that also comes from New Zealand as they are free of chronic wasting disease.”

 

Bow Wow Labs

Bow Wow Labs is a brand that is proud to make its products in the U.S.A. According to Johnna Deveraux, chief nutrition officer for the brand, Bow Wow Labs chose to manufacture domestically for several important reasons.

“Firstly, it allows us to maintain rigorous quality control standards,” she said. “By overseeing the entire production process locally, we can ensure that every product meets our stringent safety and quality requirements. Additionally, manufacturing in the U.S.A. allows us to reduce lead times, ensuring that our products reach our customers more quickly and efficiently. Moreover, we value the ability to support the domestic workforce.”

Approximately 80 percent of the brand’s materials are sourced from the U.S.A., supporting the majority of the ingredients in its treats and Epic Chews. However, some specialized ingredients are sourced from outside the U.S. For example, certain high-quality ingredients for the brand’s Epic Chew supplement are imported because they are not readily available or grown domestically in sufficient quantities.

For the materials sourced from outside the U.S., Bow Wow Labs has a rigorous vetting and quality assurance process in place. The brand partners with suppliers who have a proven track record of reliability and quality. Each batch of imported materials has undergone thorough testing and inspection upon arrival to ensure it meets the brand’s exacting standards.

 

Einstein Pet

Kelly Ison, CEO of Einstein Pets, says there was no question her brand was going to make its treats in the U.S. Since the dog treat company launched its first recipe, PB’N Jelly Time, in late 2013, Ison realized the value in domestic manufacturing. This includes being better able to manage production and minimize energy consumption and the brand’s carbon footprint.

“When companies re-invest in domestic manufacturing, they are providing stable employment for hundreds of employees,” she added. “American manufacturing provides a more efficient supply chain for the retailer too, more consistent product quality, eliminates concerns over manufacturing issues – and everyone is set to the same FTC quality standards.”

A vast majority of the brand’s treat ingredients are U.S. sourced, with only coconut, coconut oil, cinnamon, ginger and vanilla being sourced outside of the country.

“The countries we source these raw ingredients from are well-known for producing high-quality raw ingredients,” Ison said. “As part of our manufacturing, we have quality control standards in place that occur at various points, including during storage of raw ingredients and during manufacturing on the raw materials and finally the finished product to ensure that they conform to specifications.”

In addition, based on the SQF Level 3 standards that the brand has in place, Einstein Pets requires a Certificate of Analysis (COA) on all incoming ingredients. This ensures the brand has 100 percent traceability on all its raw ingredients.

 

Leather Brothers

Brothers Louis and Steve Schrekenhofer founded Leather Brothers in 1976, and one steadfast principle has remained, even as new generations take over the family business: Leather Brothers aims to be a trusted manufacturer of American-made pet products.

Over time, Leather Brothers has become part of a diminishing breed of wholesalers and manufacturers, as well as one of the last remaining cut-and-sew factories in the United States.

Steve Schrekenhofer says Leather Brothers believes in maintaining the integrity of American craftsmanship, and that starts with the brand itself.  When the first Leather Brothers dog collars were made, it was easy to locate the essential elements needed from start to finish. However, Schrekenhofer admits American manufacturing is in decline and, for this reason, it’s made it necessary to seek other avenues of acquiring some items. This includes the finishing materials needed, such as buckles, clasps and rivets.

“When we started making collars back in 1976, we found everything we needed right here in America,” he said. “But times have slowly changed, and we’ve had to adapt along the way, finding trusted suppliers of certain materials we just can’t acquire here anymore, like hardware. As we’ve expanded, we’ve found it necessary to import some of our hardline items as well. These are items that we either don’t have the capacity to manufacture, lack the equipment, or have lost our American manufactured partners, such as select dog toys, stainless dishware, and grooming accessories. Of course, anything imported is clearly labeled for transparency.”

In addition to building relationship with its suppliers to ensure brand consistency and quality, Leather Brothers holds them to the same high standards from which it holds itself. The company tests any imported materials for strength, durability, ease of use, product consistency and appearance.

“We wouldn’t be who we are without our quality collars, leads and harnesses, and we are happy to utilize quality leather hides sourced from American businesses,” Schrekenhofer added. “In addition to this, we are partnered with Biothane, a trusted source for the material used in our BETA product lines. Even our Rope Slip Leads are manufactured in our factory with rope that is loomed right here in the US.

 

Mika & Sammy’s

Mika & Sammy’s staple products, which include jerky treats and smoked beef marrow bones, are sourced and made in the U.S.A.

“When starting out, we were making the bones on the side of our house and the jerky in our kitchen for our own dogs,” said Erik Senders, founder of Mike & Sammy’s. “At that time, we never thought about outsourcing our jerky treats or bones. Today, we continue to produce our jerky and marrow bones at our own facilities here in and around Philadelphia.”

The small, family-owned brand sources its Himalayan yak cheese chews from Nepal. Although it had the option to import yak cheese from Germany or produce it in the United States, Senders says yak’s milk is best sourced from Nepal, and the Nepalese people have been producing it for generations.

“The rest of our chews are sourced from both the U.S.A. and Brazil,” he added. “For instance, we produce our own Pennsylvania-sourced bully sticks. When we ran into roadblocks for other protein sources, we decided to look for alternatives in South America. We focused on on Brazil for two reasons; first, they are one if the biggest producers of meat. The second reason was because Brazil’s cattle are fully traceable. Brazil has eradicated FMD (foot and mouth disease), the result is sanitary safe, hormone free, high-quality beef. Quality is first and foremost, and the relationship between us and the company is also very important to us.”

 

Natural Cravings USA

From its inception, Natural Cravings was created on the belief that prioritizing quality could make a significant difference. When it comes to defining a Natural Cravings dog treat, the emphasis is on purity, transparency and safety.

“Our treats are proudly 100 percent made, sourced and processed in the U.S.A.,” explained Lucy Calamari Caprez, marketing director at Natural Cravings USA. “This commitment serves as a guarantee to pet owners that every treat originates from American pastures, undergoes local processing and is packaged with meticulous care. By eliminating the uncertainties associated with products processed in distant locations, we provide peace of mind to pet owners concerned about spoilage or potential health risks.”

The brand is dedicated to purely American-made products, which enables it to have a unique identity from its sister brand, Barking Buddha Pet. As Caprez describes it, Barking Buddha Pet was created to offer pets high quality treats and chews of other origins without changing the original brand, Natural Cravings USA.

“All of our ingredients, meaning 100 percent of each formula and 100 percent of the body parts we make under the Natural Cravings USA brand, are solely of USA origin,” she said. “To ensure the quality of Barking Buddha Pet, as it is the one that includes outside U.S. origins, we have our own USDA license and whatever we source goes through strict regulations and testing before even arriving into the U.S.”

 

Polkadog

When Deb Suchman moved to the South End of Boston in 1991, she says she fell in love with the neighborhood.

“Every small shop and business seemed vibrantly connected to the homes and families and artists who lived there,” she recalled. “I wanted those connections, I wanted the neighborhood, and that’s really the point of all this.”

Suchman takes pride in every one of her brand’s treats being made in the U.S.A. The brand make produces than 95 percent of those treats by hand in its own Polkadog kitchen at Boston Fish Pier, while its Salmon Chips and Cod Chips are made by a partner on the West Coast.

According to Suchman, dwindling natural resources and climate change are global issues that are impacting ingredients. She makes it a point to source only the healthiest, most sustainable proteins that go into her products.

“We get a bit of haddock from a close partnership in Canada, but that makes up less than 3 percent of the ingredients we use to make our treats,” Suchman noted. “So, about 97 percent of our ingredients come from the USA.”

Suchman explains she knows all the farmers, and all the families that have fished off the New England coast for generations. In addition, she works directly with everyone who produces the ingredients used for Pokadog’s treats.

“I want to see where each and every ingredient grows,” she added. “But what we’re looking for is the nature of their business practice. We’re looking for Marine Stewardship Council [MSC] certification, the gold standard for fishing practices and sustainability. I can’t tell you it’s the only valid certification in the world, but it’s a certification I thoroughly understand and support.”

 

Project Hive

Project Hive Pet Company’s dog toys and treats are all manufactured in the U.S.A. When Jim and Lissie Schifman founded Project Hive, they wanted to create a company that uses business as a force for good, and making products in the United States is vital to that philosophy.

“First, manufacturing products here has a positive economic impact on the U.S. economy,” said Lissie Schifman. “We support American jobs and help grow our gross domestic product, which creates a ripple effect, strengthening our communities. Second, manufacturing in the U.S. is better for the environment. Compared to shipping products overseas, our company has a lower carbon footprint and causes less air pollution from freight. Third, we believe American-made products are more dependable from a safety and consistency standpoint — which means better quality products.”

The percentage of treat ingredients and materials fluctuates for Project Hive. At one point, 96 percent of its dog treat ingredients were sourced from the U.S. but, due to changing economic and political conditions, the brand was forced to get more ingredients from Europe, Canada and Thailand. For instance, Project Hive’s mission is to save the bees, so it includes a touch of honey in all its treats.

“While we would love to source local honey, to achieve Non-GMO Project Verification, which is a certification important to our brand and mission, the honey has to be organic,” Lissie Schifman explained. “But the United States Department of Agriculture does not certify honey as organic, partly due to the difficulty in ascertaining that the bees don’t get their nectar from non-organic crops. We must go outside the U.S. to source certified organic honey, so purchase it from South America.”

 

Pure and Natural Pet

Pure and Natural Pet purchases its ingredients from U.S.-based companies, making it a priority that everything has a U.S. origin.

“We specify that we need all of our ingredients sourced from the U.S.A.,” said Beth Sommers, the brand’s founder and CEO. “We have to be incredibly careful, because many of our products are USDA Certified Organic and there are very strict guidelines about ingredients.”

There is one lone Pure and Natural Pet product that is not completely comprised of ingredients sourced from the U.S., and that is the brand’s bamboo toothbrush, which is assembled in the U.S. According to Sommers, the brand spent a long time researching the best types of bamboo to use, and the brand decided on Moso bamboo that can grow up to four feet in a day and has a thicker diameter, allowing for handles to be made from a single stick of bamboo. In addition, the brand wanted the toothbrushes to be made of sustainably sourced bamboo.

“Our eco-friendly bamboo brushes don’t contain any glue, toxins or paint,” Sommers added. “They’re made with dental-grade nylon bristles from recyclable material. Biodegradable and naturally anti-microbial, the ergonomic handle is coated with soybean wax to for a better grip to make brushing a K9’s canines [teeth] easier. That is how concerned we are about sourcing, quality and sustainability.”

 

REÁL MESA

Launched earlier this year, REÁL MESA is a pet food and treat brand featuring Mediterranean-inspired ingredients and chef curated recipes, which are designed to change the way dogs experience nutrition.

According to Mike Thatcher, the brand’s product developer, REÁL MESA’s dry dog food is made in Minnesota and the treats are manufactured in Canada and North Carolina. He says the brand takes pride in using the highest quality ingredients available, so it looked to New Zealand to source its lamb.

“Our decision to do so stems from our commitment to upholding high standards of product quality and food safety, and we’ve chosen trusted manufacturing partners who align with our values,” he said. “All ingredients for REÁL MESA’s meals and treats are sourced from the U.S.A. or Canada apart from our lamb, which is sourced from New Zealand, as that’s where you can find the highest quality lamb.”

The brand offers one puppy and three adult main meals in recipes like Mediterranean Chicken & Rice Entrée and Wild Caught Salmon Feast. In addition, treats and toppers come in a variety of flavors like Lamb Recipe Bites and Chicken Kabobs. Each of the brand’s ingredients undergoes a rigorous quality control program that includes selecting vendors with the prerequisite industry quality certifications, as well as requiring Certificates of Analysis or positive release testing of all inbound ingredients.

 

SodaPup

SodaPup is a veteran-owned business committed to the revitalization of American manufacturing. Founded by Adam Baker, SodaPup manufactures its products in the U.S.A. from safe and durable FDA-compliant materials. Adam Baker explains why this is important to him.

“The first reason is simply because we think it’s the right thing to do,” he said. “We are proud that we have ‘cracked the code’ on domestic production. It’s a more difficult path in some ways, but it’s also hugely rewarding on a personal level to be a part of creating American manufacturing jobs. But the reasons aren’t entirely altruistic. The second reason we produce in the U.S.A. is because consumers actually prefer U.S.-made products. We always want to give the consumer what they want, so producing in the U.S.A. checks that box. Next, our entire business strategy revolves around innovation, speed to market, and lean-just-in-time inventory. Creating strategic partnerships with a handful of like-minded manufacturers allows us to do things that would be difficult if not impossible to accomplish with an offshoring strategy. Finally, producing in the U.S.A. gives a small business like ours more control over our materials and manufacturing.”

Baker estimates that approximately 85 percent of his brand’s materials come from the U.S. He notes that a portion of SodaPup’s business is in natural rubber dog toys and, technically, its natural rubber compound is made in the U.S.A. by the company’s U.S. rubber compounding partners.

“The thing to understand about rubber dog toys is that the rubber material is not just one material,” Baker explained. “It is a compound made up of several materials. Natural rubber is one of the ingredients, and it comes from rubber trees that cannot grow in the U.S. They only grow in equatorial climates. So, that raw material is imported and then our U.S. partners create our proprietary rubber compound, which we call Puppyprene.”

After the brand’s rubber compounder creates SodaPup’s proprietary compound, the material is tested to ensure that it meets the FDA standard and also the brand’s performance requirements.

“The important point here is that not all natural rubber toys are alike,” Baker added. “Most rubber toys produced in Asia have high filler content in the rubber compound, which weakens the material. It is a way to lower costs, but it also impacts performance. So, while most rubber toys look and feel similar, there are vast differences in performance.”

 

SquarePet

SquarePet Nutrition manufactures all of its products in the U.S.A. According to Tyler Atkins, chief sales and marketing officer for the brand, making products in the U.S.A. has several advantages, and businesses often choose this route for several reasons. These include quality control and standards, supply chain and logistics, economic and ethical considerations, regulatory compliance, intellectual property protection and environmental considerations to name a few.

SquarePet strives to source a high percentage of ingredients locally due to factors such as ease of logistics, better quality control and supporting local economies. However, when it must source an ingredient from outside the country, the brand follows strict procedures that ensure it meets the highest quality standards and expectations, thereby maintaining product integrity and trust.

“While specific percentages can vary depending on the product, the majority of our ingredients are locally sourced to ensure quality and support the domestic economy,” Atkins noted. “A rough estimate might be that 90 to 95 percent of SquarePet ingredients are sourced from within the U.S. and Canada. In certain cases, ingredients from specific regions are renowned for their exceptional quality and are therefore sourced internationally. For instance, lamb from New Zealand is often favored due to the country’s stringent quality standards and labeling requirements. Also, the pristine natural environments of New Zealand allow for the lamb to be grass-fed throughout their lives, producing a higher quality protein source than can be found elsewhere around the globe.”