Somewhat surprising news in the pet food biz this week, as Procter & Gamble announced it’s acquiring Natura Pet Products, the privately-held premium pet food company whose product line includes Innova, Evo, California Natural, Healthwise, Mother Nature, and Karma pet foods.
Natura’s brands will join P&G’s existing Eukanuba and Iams pet food brands in a move to improve P&G’s poisition in the holistic and natural pet food market. Specific terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but Natura officials did report they feel P&G is the ideal company to help take its brands to “the next level of growth.”
While formulas and ingredients likely won’t change much for Natura’s product line, at least not in the short term, it’ll be interesting to see how customers react to their specialty brands joining with more mainstream pet foods in the Eukanuba and Iams lines. It will also be interesting to see how P&G positions Natura’s natural dog foods and cat foods with some of the all natural pet food formulas currently offered by P&G like its Eukanuba Naturally Wild Dog Food and Iams Healthy Naturals Dog Food formulas.
Another question involves how P&G will expand the distribution of Natura’s products, which typically sell in pet specialty stores and directly through veterinarians, into the mainstream via “big chain” stores such as PetSmart and PETCO.
The acquisition is also a bit of a surprise, as some in the industry have recently questioned P&G’s desire to remain in the pet food business. Pet care and pet products is a relatively small segment for P&G, and it hasn’t performed as well as other areas of the company’s business.
What’s your opinion of the Natura Pet Foods acquisition by Procter & Gamble?
Update: Examiner.com has a good article about the Natura Pet Products sale that summarizes many of the Natura customer worries: “that mass-marketing the product will reduce the quality of its production, that the formula will change, that ingredients will become lower grade, and that changes will not be quickly or honestly communicated to consumers. Additionally, Procter & Gamble has a poorly regarded history of animal testing and rumors of animal cruelty in the production of some of its other brands, most notably, Iams and Eukanuba.”