The Sourcing Struggle for Raw Feeders and How Local 2 Pets Helps

In recent years, more and more dog and cat owners are turning back to feeding their pets the way nature intended. Our pet carnivores deserve a species-appropriate diet! Commercial dog and cat feed industry has dominated pet feeding culture for the last century. Due to quality concerns and the needs of pets, feeding dogs and cats raw is seeing a resurgence, once again, but it may still be a new concept for many people.

The concept of feeding raw (prey animals like chicken, beef, rabbits, etc.) relies on the fact that dogs and cats are carnivores. Dogs and cats were domesticated centuries ago; however, their biology has not changed much compared to their counterparts in the wild.

Despite the mass-production success of commercial pet food, many people choose to feed their pets raw meat, bone, and organ. While there is substantial controversy over the diet, in practice raw feeders observe a positive impact on pets’ health.

Because of the positive impact and consumer concerns over pet-food industry practices and quality control, the raw-feeding market has been growing quickly. Social networks both online and in pet-centric communities are discussing and promoting raw feeding with increasing frequency in recent years and new raw pet food companies are emerging to cater to this market.

Many commercial pet food companies are also taking advantage of this opportunity and are establishing a wide customer base with products like raw grinds and dehydrated or somewhat processed meats. However, current raw food brand offerings are far from ideal. Some problems with the existing pet-food brands include:

– Unwanted ingredients – commercially available raw pet foods (particularly grinds) may contain fruits or vegetables, synthetic vitamins and minerals, and preservatives. Pet carnivores have no use for any of these ingredients and their digestive system is not equipped to process them.

– Price – most raw pet foods are considerably pricey. In fact, we sometimes find raw pet food selling at a higher cost than equivalent human grade meat. Raw feeding can therefore be a significant percentage of a family budget. Local 2 Pets finds that given the alternative market options, feeding raw can easily cost more than feeding premium kibble or even canned food.

– Shipping cost – certain brands of raw food can be found in some (mostly independent) pet stores. Of course, not everyone will have a specialty pet store, nearby. The majority of pet food companies ship nationally. The cost of shipping can be as high as $1 per lb. When the source is within a reasonable driving distance, no shipping is required, but local sources are limited.

Because of those problems, many raw feeders are turning to alternative sources for meat. Many raw feeders buy whole meat cuts from grocery stores, hunters, or local cooperatives. Even these alternatives are also not perfect:

– Wild game – Feeding wild game requires freezing for a period of time because of parasite concerns and certain meats cannot be considered safe even after freezing.

– Grocery stores – Meats from the grocery store are often a few months old and have been re-frozen multiple times before being sold. Many meats, especially pork and poultry, have added sodium which will cause digestive upset in most pets. Grocery store meats may come from animals that were raised in inhumane conditions and are nutrient deficient due to the way the livestock is kept and fed. Antibiotics and other chemicals are often used to treat livestock for conditions created by commercial care-taking practices. For example, crowded quarters make livestock more susceptible to disease. There are some notable benefits for shopping at grocery stores: human grade meat regulations are more developed, grocery stores are accessible to most residential communities, certain foods like bones may be given to pet owners for a small price, and grocery stores may provide meats by the case and/or by the pound.

– Co-ops – Cooperatives, more commonly known as co-ops, are not-for-profit groups where one or more individuals volunteer their time to organize buying in bulk to achieve lower prices for the co-op members. Co-ops typically require a buyer to buy one case at a minimum, each purchase. Co-op members typically pay a membership fee. Co-ops may carry one brand of ground raw pet food and whole meats purchased from a wholesale distributor. Some co-ops buy from local farmers, but from what we have seen, this is quite rarely the case. Co-ops generally have fixed pickup/delivery locations and most of them process orders once a month. The order dates cannot be adjusted to an individual member’s needs. Some co-ops are created to distribute “refuse” meat from grocery stores among the members. This meat is beyond the expiration date and cannot be sold to humans.

It has been a quest for the owners of Local 2 Pets to find quality meat at affordable prices to feed our two dogs, and we started seeking out farmers in our area. Soon enough we realized that there is more supply out there than our dogs can possibly consume on their own, so we decided to create Local 2 Pets to allow other raw feeders to take advantage of the variety the farmers offer.

Local 2 Pets is for trading on-line with a local pickup or delivery to reduce the cost to the raw feeders. We intend to offer greater variety by growing our supplier base who flexible pickup dates for individual orders. Local 2 Pets allows pet owners to purchase directly from farmers by secure credit card or Paypal payments. We process the credit card/Paypal transaction, and remit payment to the farmer by bank deposit or paper check three days after the pet owner accepts the goods. By cutting out the typical distribution channels and opening the market to include more livestock parts that are typically not wanted for humans, the transaction becomes more lucrative for both the buyer and the seller. On top of it, since we connect a buyer and a seller locally, no shipping is required.

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