Online financial services marketplace LendingTree has released a consumer survey finding that more than 75% of pet owners believe that inflation is making pet ownership more expensive, and 26% are struggling to afford the four-legged members of their families. By generation, Millennials (32%) were most likely to say that they're having trouble paying for pet expenses amid inflation.
Overall, 87% of pet owners said that they've experienced increased pricing on key pet-related expenses, especially pet food (74%) and veterinary services (33%). This increase in cost has forced pet owners to make financial sacrifices for their pets, with nearly one in four (23%) having taken on debt for their furry friends, and some even limiting their retirement savings contributions (10%).
Other key survey findings included:
• While pet owners reported spending an average of $1,163 annually on their pets in a 2021 LendingTree survey, in 2022, owners say they're spending just $984 per year — a nearly $180 difference.
• 44% of pet owners are making financial sacrifices for their pets.
• 30% of owners who've been in pet-related debt have owed $1,000 or more.
Charlotte, N.C.-based LendingTree commissioned Provo, Utah-based Qualtrics to conduct an online survey of 1,017 U.S. pet owners, ages 18 to 76, on Aug. 12-18. The survey was administered using a nonprobability-based sample, and quotas were used to ensure that the sample base represented the overall population. All responses were reviewed by researchers for quality control.
Superior Grocers has hit a milestone, opening its 70th store in Southern California. The location at 280 E. Harvard Blvd. in Santa Paula operates under The Market by Superior banner.
The Santa Paula store northwest of Los Angeles features grocery staples as well as a large selection of produce, fresh meat, baked goods and ready-to-eat hot food options. A liquor department is also a part of the new location.
“We are very excited to open The Market by Superior and to join the community of Santa Paula,” said Superior’s President Richard Wardwell. “We are honored to serve the neighborhood with a great shopping experience as they have welcomed us with open arms.”
Founded in 1981, Santa Fe Springs, Calif.-based Superior Grocers is one of the largest independently-owned grocery chains in Southern California.
Almost 1,000 independent grocers joined in a letter encouraging Congress to support bipartisan legislation that would bring much-needed competition to the market for credit card routing. Sponsored by Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Roger Marshall, R-Kans., the Credit Card Competition Act would permit merchants to choose between two unaffiliated networks to process credit card transactions.
“The letter represents a resounding call from the independent supermarket industry that credit card reforms are long past due. For many of our members, the fees associated with accepting credit cards is one of the highest costs of doing business,” said Greg Ferrara, president and CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based National Grocers Association (NGA), which represents the independent sector of the grocery industry. “In addition to the direct impact these ‘swipe fees’ have on independent grocers’ operations, they also drive up the costs of food and other goods at a time when Americans are already reeling from a level of inflation not seen in a generation.”
“The Credit Card Competition Act would bring much-needed relief to retailers and American consumers by simply requiring that Visa and Mastercard compete with other networks for both merchant and bank business,” noted the letter, which was sent to all members of the House and Senate by the Merchants Payments Coalition, of which NGA is a founding member.
The signatories to the letter requested that legislators co-sponsor S. 4674, the Credit Card Competition Act, to help improve the likelihood the bill will be considered by Congress and ultimately signed into law.
Kroger Expanding Use of PackIt Totes in E-Commerce
The Kroger Co. has expanded its collaboration with PackIt, a brand of New York-based Tenth Avenue Holdings LLC, to new storefronts and regions of the United States.
“After successful pilot programs at multiple storefronts in the Midwest and western United States, the PackIt Fresh Mobile Refrigeration Solution is now being implemented at Kroger stores across Atlanta and Nashville for the first time,” said Melissa Kieling, founder of Agoura Hills, Calif.-based PackIt. “We’re also seeing our solution entering additional stores in California and Arizona. Kroger clearly recognizes the improvement to product freshness and efficiencies gained by deploying our EcoFreeze totes into their retail operations.”
Kroger’s Ralphs banner recently launched a program enabling customers to pick up orders in as little as an hour, with PackIt Fresh totes now used at its stores as a single staging vehicle to collect ambient, refrigerated and frozen items. Collapsible, freezable, reusable PackIt Fresh EcoFreeze totes feature PackIt’s patented EcoFreeze Technology: freezable gel built into the walls to keep perishables cold and food-safe for 15 hours.
Serving 60 million households annually nationwide through a digital shopping experience, and almost 2,800 retail food stores under a variety of banner names, Cincinnati-based Kroger is No. 4 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. Family-owned Fareway, which operates more than 120 stores in seven Midwestern states and employs more than 12,000 associates, is No. 77 on The PG 100.
Purina Dog Chow Announces Finalists in Visible Impact Awards
Purina Dog Chow, a brand from Nestlé Purina PetCare, has named five finalists in its inaugural Visible Impact Awards recognizing the impact of PTSD service dogs on the daily lives of veterans. The brand has teamed up with actor and longtime military supporter Wilmer Valderrama on the awards, which are part of Dog Chow’s fifth annual Service Dog Salute program.
From now through Oct. 17, dog lovers can vote for their favorite finalist online at DogChow.com/service. For every vote, Dog Chow will donate $5 to the Association of Service Dog Providers for Military Veterans, up to $75,000, to help train more PTSD service dogs at no cost to veterans.
The grand prize winner will receive a $10,000 cash prize and $25,000 for the organization that trained the service dog. This year’s finalists include:
• Trigger /Northwest Battle Buddies, which helps U.S. Navy Veteran Rebekah by sensing the beginning of a panic attack or when Rebekah is having difficulties "getting back to reality." • Raphael/Hero's Puppy For Life, which helps U.S. Air Force Veteran Bernard by performing a "standing hug" – a unique version of compression therapy – to quell anxiety or panic attacks. • Bjorn/Northwest Battle Buddies, which helps U.S. Army Veteran Derek by breaking him away from the spiral of negative thoughts through the art of interruption by demanding to be pet. • Ivy/Operation Freedom Paws, which helps U.S. Army Veteran Todd by smelling a change in Todd's body chemistry when the veteran is in a crowded social situation and starts to be hypervigilant, angry or anxious. • Liberty/Paws for Purple Hearts, which helps U.S. Army Veteran Carlos by applying a wide variety of skills to help mitigate Carlos's PTSD symptoms, such as performing deep pressure therapy by laying the dogs' front legs and head down on Carlos's lap when the veteran experiences anxiety.
Purina manufactures Dog Chow and other popular pet care products including Purina ONE, Pro Plan, Fancy Feast and Tidy Cats.
Underscoring the priority of innovation, Mars Petcare has brought on a new executive to lead its R&D efforts. The division of Mars, Inc. recently announced the hiring of Alejandro (Alex) Cedeno as SVP of research and development.
In his new role, Cedeno will help create and drive global R&D strategies, take part in the development of the innovation pipeline for the company’s pet nutrition brands and oversee the deployment of breakthrough science and technology. The Mars Petcare portfolio includes the Pedigree, Sheba and Iams brands available at grocery stores and pet retailers around North America.
Cedeno brings nearly 30 years of R&D experience in the CPG space, most recently at The J.M. Smucker Co. where he served as VP of R&D for pet food and snacks. He also held R&D and innovation roles at Mead WestVaco (now WestRock) and Procter & Gamble in North America, Europe, and South America. Cedeno earned a master of science degree in chemical engineering from the University of Wisconsin and a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology
"Alex is a people-first leader with a disruptive and innovative mindset," said Ikdeep Singh, global president of Mars Pet Nutrition. "'A better world for pets' is our purpose. It is core to everything we do and I'm confident that his global knowledge, passion for people and pets, and expertise in pet food innovation will make him an immeasurable asset to our Pet Nutrition R&D team."
Cedeno succeeds the retiring SVP of R&D Michel Oostwal.