Sustainable Pet Food Production: What, Why, and Who?

Sustainability in pet food production is an important concern that impacts current and future generations. What exactly does sustainable production mean, though, why should you invest in sustainably produced pet food and who can you trust to produce quality sustainable pet food?

What is Sustainably Manufactured Pet Food?

What is Sustainably Manufactured Pet Food

Sustainable pet food is produced in such a way that it has little to no impact on the environment throughout its life cycle, is viable economically, and is beneficial to society.

Sustainable production methods can be accomplished by a range of practices, but they all have one thing in common – they aim to improve our way of life. This can be accomplished by:

  • Utilizing non-polluting production practices
  • Using production practices that conserve natural resources
  • Conserving energy during the production process
  • Implementing production practices that are cost effective and can be maintained for the foreseeable future
  • Practicing safe production processes that have no health impacts on workers, consumers, and communities

Why Choose Sustainable Pet Food Manufacturing Companies?

Why Choose Sustainable Pet Food Manufacturing Companies?

Choosing manufacturers of sustainably produced pet foods supports improved environmental awareness. Providing this support decreases funding of manufacturers using pollutive production processes and increases funding for the use of non-pollutive manufacturing processes.

It is important to support non-pollutive, sustainable manufacturing because it not only causes less damage to the environment, but it also provides the opportunity for the reversal of existing damage. Additionally, by utilizing alternative clean energy sources during production, some of these companies are also decreasing the strain on limited natural resources. These benefits result in a healthier tomorrow for the Earth and future populations.

Sustainably produced pet food also results in a higher quality food. Proteins are usually grass-fed or humanely raised resulting in less exposure to growth hormones and antibiotics. Additionally, mass processed fillers are not used to fill out kibble to make it cheaper to produce in bulk, meaning that food is more nutrient dense.

Some Pet Food Companies That Use Sustainable Production Methods

Open Farm

Open Farm

Open Farm is a company built on the concept of sustainability and “doing good”. The foods that they produce are made from high quality locally and ethically sourced products, non-GMO fruits and vegetables, certified humane raised and handled animals, and sustainable fishing practices. That isn’t all, though. Open Farm is also committed to pet nutrition and full transparency of their ingredient sourcing. For this reason, the company also provides a system through their website that allows every bag of food and its ingredients to be traced to its point of origin!

This environmentally conscious company also ensures that all of their product packaging is recyclable where many other dog food packaging is not. This recycling program is so important to the foundation of Open Farm principles, that they partner with TerraCycle to provide free recycling services for Open Farm consumers. Open Farm is so committed to sustainability that they have a program designed to manage the company’s environmental footprint.

Open Farm foods are a Canadian-based company who manufacture their foods in their own Minnesota plant.

First Mate

First Mate

FirstMate pet foods is a family owned and operated company built by a commercial fisherman. This experience allowed the company’s founder to see the importance of sustainability in the fishing industry and apply that knowledge to the creation and production of dog food.

When it comes to ingredients, FirstMate only uses locally sourced non-GMO ingredients, wild-caught fish, free-run poultry, free-range and grass-fed lamb. Additionally, when processing meat products, FirstMate do not use feet, feathers, heads, or entrails which add to food quality.

FirstMate pet foods are a Canadian-based company and their foods are manufactured in their own dry production facility and cannery plants.

In comparison to Open Farm who have a broader sustainability goal, FirstMate pet foods focus their sustainability concerns on ingredient sources.

I and Love and You

I and Love and You

Although a relatively young company, I and Love and You, is making a huge impact in the sustainable pet food industry. This company is so concerned with the environment that they went on to contribute to the founding of the Pet Industry Sustainability Coalition! I and Love and You knows that to encourage other pet industry companies to use sustainable production efforts, though, they must exemplify them themselves.

The I and Love and You corporate headquarters rely solely on wind power. Employees are encouraged to use alternative forms of transportation to get to work to reduce the carbon footprint of the company. Additionally, when corporate employees do have to utilize traditional travel methods, the company purchases carbon offsets to compensate.

I and Love and You pet foods are a Colorado-based company with headquarter in Boulder and their foods are produced in United States manufacturing facilities.

Unlike Open Farm and FirstMate, I and Love and You focuses their sustainability efforts solely on their manufacturing and production processes and business practices rather than ingredient sourcing.

The Honest Kitchen

The Honest Kitchen

The Honest Kitchen specializes in producing less traditional pet foods like dehydrated food formulas. The Honest Kitchen is one of the most sustainable pet food companies in the market today.

Pet foods made by The Honest Kitchen are always made using non-GMO fruits and vegetables, organic grains and seeds, humanely raised animals, and wild-caught fish caught using sustainable fishing practices. It isn’t only the ingredients of their foods that make The Honest Kitchen a sustainable company, though, food production is just as eco-friendly.

Using dehydration when creating their foods means that this California-based company uses less energy when producing their foods than traditional pet food companies. This dehydration process also results in a lighter final product so more pet food can be shipped per shipment for less cost to the environment. Lastly, since all The Honest Kitchen pet foods are manufactured in North America, shipping and transport costs and packaging materials are drastically reduced!

Packaging is another area of business where The Honest Kitchen excels in sustainable practices! Not only is all pet food packaging recyclable and BPA free, but all boxes are printed using vegetable ink and are fully biodegradable!

Finally, The Honest Kitchen saves energy in all of their warehouses and manufacturing plants by using lighting that is energy-efficient and controlled by a motion sensor. This leads to decreased energy use as well as less “accidental” usage by lighting being left on.

The Honest Kitchen is based in California and their foods are manufactured in human grade U.S. based manufacturing plants.

Much like Open Farm, The Honest Kitchen focuses on all aspects of sustainable business.

Other Sustainable Pet Food Manufacturers

Other Sustainable Pet Food Manufacturers

Open Farm, First Mate, I and Love and You, and The Honest Kitchen aren’t the only pet food companies working towards sustainable pet food production. Other sustainable pet food manufacturers worth noting include:

  • Fromm Family Pet Foods
  • Acana Pet Foods
  • Bravo Pet Foods
  • Grandma Lucy’s Pet Foods
  • K9 Naturals Pet Foods
  • Koha Pet Foods
  • Nature’s Variety Pet Foods
  • Petcurean Pet Foods
  • Primal Pet Foods
  • Sojo’s Pet Foods
  • Stella and Chewy’s Pet Foods
  • Steve’s Real Food Pet Foods
  • Tiki Cat and Tiki Dog Pet Foods
  • Tucker’s Raw Pet Foods
  • Vital Essentials Pet Foods
  • Wild Calling Pet Foods
  • Zignature Pet Foods
  • Ziwi Peak Pet Foods

Identifying Sustainable Pet Food Manufacturers

Identifying Sustainable Pet Food Manufacturers

The Company Mission Statement

One of the best ways to determine whether a pet food manufacturer values sustainability is to look at the company mission statement. Companies that value sustainable production will almost always reveal these values in their mission statement. There are two reasons that companies do this 1) it raises awareness of the importance of sustainable production 2) it gives their business an edge over competitors’ non-sustainable products.

Parent Companies

Another good way to determine whether a pet food is sustainably manufactured is to look at the parent company of the pet food brand. The vast majority of pet food companies are owned by large corporations like Mars, J.M Smucker Company, and Nestle. These large corporations are almost always centered on profit over sustainability which means that their pet food brands are not going to be sustainably produced. Why? Because there is more profit in mass produced foods that are produced as quickly and as affordably as possible. While this may mean that foods are “economically sustainable” for consumers, they come at a severe detriment to the environment and pet food quality. Medium-size and small-size companies are more likely to utilize sustainable production methods because they value quality over quantity.


It may sound like a no-brainer, but looking at the packaging of a dog or cat food can sometimes be a fast and easy way to identify a sustainable food. Sustainability is a great marketing point for any product and as such, it is often printed right on the bag!


Sustainable pet foods tend to be a little more expensive than non-sustainable brands in terms of cost to the consumer. This increased price point means that sustainable pet foods are rarely if ever available from megastores, grocery stores, and even some pet product stores like PetSmart. Sustainable pet foods are more likely to be carried by specialty pet foods stores, online retailers, and pet product stores like Petco and Pet Supermarket.

Is Sustainable Pet Food a Better Choice?

Is Sustainable Pet Food a Better Choice?

Considering the higher price point of sustainable pet foods, is it really a better choice for pet owners? Without a doubt. Sustainable pet foods may cost more financially, but they cost less in terms of depleted natural resources, polluted ecosystems, and damage to the Earth’s atmosphere. Not only this, but sustainable pet foods almost always contain higher quality ingredients and fewer filler ingredients which make them healthier for pets as well!