Tooth & Nail: Pet food shortages, too? | Life

If anyone here locally encounters a shortage of pet food at the store of your choice, I’d love to hear about it.

The reason is that I see a lot of anxiety about such news in newspapers and on television, especially coming out of the Midwest. What I don’t see is validation from the industry. Please email me and tell me which foods brand and store you choose and how long you have to dispense.

So far, I haven’t seen any shortage of pet food here locally, but to be fair, I haven’t specifically researched. I will do now. However, an empty store shelf does not mean a real shortage. People might just read things like this column and suddenly go out and buy more than they need for fear of a shortage in the future. Thus, the shelf is empty.

Then head to the store. If one entered and encountered an empty pet food aisle, it should be right now, right? Or not, not really. This summer I went to a local store to buy some ice cream. The entire section featuring a favorite brand was empty. Let’s see, five shelves were 15 feet high and equal only 75 feet of the ice cream that just disappeared.

Instead of running out of the store as if my head was on fire and my rear end was catching me trying to text everyone I knew with this breaking news, I felt the glass door of the freezer. It was warm. Most likely the freezer section was faulty. The trapped employee who had to restock it all two days later confirmed my suspicions.

If there is a real shortage of pet food, I find it a bit difficult to understand. Now your own brand may run out temporarily, but I doubt the entire industry has collapsed. The human food industry has not declined and according to the USDA which reported this week, “there is currently no food shortage nationwide.”

There is a growing demand for human food. Demand is up 13 percent overall from a year ago at this time.

Sources cited in mainstream media have stated that this increased demand as well as supply chain disruptions have affected the human and pet food industry. They say there are delays in importing ingredients and poor crops due to climate change issues.

They point to a slowdown in slaughter plants due to COVID-19 restrictions, limited workers and structural changes that have been made to plants thus gobbling up land space. Taken together, this means food production slows down.

Slaughter plants are a vital part of a pet food formula chain in most cases. By-products, known as hangovers, are often key ingredients in many rations, and they’re a great way to get rid of hangovers, too. Total production from the slaughter of beef and poultry alone is nearly 2 million tons with a value of more than $3.21 billion.

Reuters reports that cat and dog food prices have risen 20 percent since the pandemic began. They also point to high labor and transportation costs. Then they point to higher prices for corn, soybeans and meat in general. And the cherries on top of these ice creams are those people who have run out and infected endemic pets either through purchase or rehousing.

No shortage of warnings has been announced by the American Feed Industry Association, the Pet Food Institute and its UK counterpart, the Pet Food Manufacturers Association. The US market share is $30.3 billion annually with 8.6 million tons of food that our pets eat.

Any deficiency is likely to be short-lived.

Powell is the Communications Officer at Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, which offers this column as a community service. For questions or concerns about animals you’d like to read about, email cpowell@vetmed.wsu.edu.

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