Eco-friendly pet food is on the rise as dog and cat owners are becoming more aware of the impact of their beloved pet’s diet.
New figures released exclusively to The Guardian show that the number of marine stewardship Council (MSC) certified sustainable seafood products has grown by 57% in the UK over the past five years, from 49 to 77. In the past year alone Consumers have over 7 million cans, bags, and packages of MSC certified pet food.
Globally, pets consume about 20% of the world’s meat and fish, a number that is set to rise as consumers tend to be fed human meat. An area twice the size of the UK is used to produce dry pet food for cats and dogs each year, while nearly 3 million tons of fish are used in UK pet food each year. It is estimated that pet food is responsible for a quarter of the environmental impacts of meat production, such as the release of greenhouse gases, phosphates and pesticides.
But there are now a growing number of environmentally friendly alternatives available. Insect dog food was first introduced for sale in 2019 and can be purchased at street pet food stores, and vegan brands are on the rise. The market continues to grow as people realize that the food their pets eat can increase carbon emissions and contain meat from animals kept in poor care conditions.
A recent study found that vegan pet food is just as good for dogs and cats as meat. However, the British Veterinary Association still does not recommend feeding your pet a plant-based diet. The Animal Welfare Act 2006 also penalizes pet owners if they fail to feed an ‘adequate diet’ that meets the nutritional needs of their dogs – this could result in a £20,000 fine or a 51-week prison sentence.
Andrew Knight, professor of animal care and ethics at the University of Winchester, said at the time that his research showed that cats and dogs had as good or better health outcomes on plant-based diets as they did when they were fed pet food meat, provided they had been carefully formulated with nutritious nutrients. additional synthetic.
In general, fish has a lower carbon footprint than meat, according to research published in Climate Change Nature, which found that for every kilogram of fish caught between one and five kilograms of carbon is produced while red meat yields between 50 to 750 kilograms. of carbon per kilogram of meat.
However, it is imperative that pet owners choose a food containing fish that is not overcaught, including Cornish sardines. There have also been concerns raised about salmon following investigations that revealed the environmental impact of salmon farming. And recently, Animal Equality revealed that there is no oversight of UK fish farms.
Salmon is the most popular type of MSC-certified sustainable pet food that contains fish, followed by cod, tuna, sardines and salsa. Newly launched ranges of pet food include a McAdams pet food product, Cornish sardines by Aldi, and a Golden Red Fish product by Woofs.
George Clarke, MSC UK and Ireland Program Director, said: “UK pet owners are increasingly understanding that caring for their furry friends also means caring for the wider environment. Fish species and marine wildlife around the world are at risk as overfishing threatens our oceans. We also know that seafood often has a much lower carbon footprint than meat, so purchasing sustainable seafood products is one of the most positive choices pet owners can make to help reverse this troubling trend.
“The Marine Stewardship Council recently presented this year’s Pet Food Brand of the Year Award for the first time at this year’s Annual Awards Gala, in response to the growing importance of sustainability to consumers for sustainable pet food products.”