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Pure and Natural Pet: Examining the Natural, Organic Pet Product Categories

By Pet Age Staff//August 29, 2023//

Pure and Natural Pet: Examining the Natural, Organic Pet Product Categories

By: Pet Age Staff//August 29, 2023//

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Many pet owners consider their animals to be members of the family, which has increased the humanization of pets. Organic and natural pet products are typically seen as having healthier benefits for animals, such as a reduction in skin allergies and an enhanced quality of life, many pet owners have begun choosing it over conventional pet products.

The demand for premium pet nutrition is surging, driven by a growing awareness among pet parents about the health and wellness of their beloved companion animals. With a shifting trend toward natural and organic products, pet parents are increasingly seeking these food, treats and health products for their companion animals. Pet Age recently spoke with Beth Sommers, president of Pure and Natural Pet, for her expert insight on these categories in the pet industry.


What is the difference between a natural and organic pet product?

“Natural” is commonly used to describe a product that contains no artificial ingredients. However, there are no rules or governing agencies that control or determine if a “natural” claim is enforced. The USDA’s official definition of the word “natural” states: A product containing no artificial ingredients or added color and is only minimally processed.

There are two main distinctions or categories when labeling products as “organic.” Products are either labeled as USDA certified organic or “made with organic ingredients.”

To be USDA certified organic, the product has undergone a certification process involving stringent testing as well as label scrutiny to ensure it is made with no artificial ingredients. Organic certification also validates that the products adhere to strict organic farming and production processes without the use of synthetic chemicals and GMOs. If you see a USDA Certified Organic label, an organic certification body verified hat 95 percent of the ingredients are organic.

Products labeled as “made with organic ingredients” have not met a full certification. Only 70 percent of the ingredients in the product are organic.


What does natural mean with regards to a product or its ingredients?

Unfortunately, not a lot. Currently, four federal agencies, the FDA, USDA, FTC and TTB, deal with food or beverage products that are labeled as “natural.” Each agency has offered limited guidance on the proper use or misuse of the term. But currently, none of the agencies have formally defined the term “natural.” Furthermore, the pet industry has absolutely no agency that determines what the word “natural” means.

So there really are no requirements for truth in labeling. Ingredients can be omitted and terms such as “made with our own proprietary blend” have become accepted verbiage for ingredients that are not listed on a label.


Are there any labeling regulations when it comes to natural or organic?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), responsible for regulating and supervising food production, does not define or regulate use of the term “natural” on the labels of food or pet products.

Unlike “natural” which has no clear definition, use of the “USDA Certified Organic” label and seal is strictly regulated by the National Organic Program, which is administered through the USDA. Products with an organic seal are certified organic and contain at least 95 percent organic content.


What advancements have there been among natural and organic pet products?

A positive trend has been the growing popularity and proliferation of fresh pet food.  This advancement has made the entire pet industry more aware of healthy options that are available.  Consumers now have many more options for fresh pet food made without preservatives or artificial ingredients.  This has a halo effect on all pet products creating awareness and demand for natural ingredients beyond food.

Although there are a few, USDA Certified organic pet foods are rare.  This also is true with pet grooming products. The truth is that most organic pet food and grooming products sold in the U.S. are only partially organic which means they contain varying amounts of organic ingredients usually specified on the label and are not USDA certified organic with the seal.