Sit, stay, grow; pet category get premium private brand

Ol’ Roy has new company on the shelves in Walmart’s pet department, as the retailer looks to capitalize on growth in high quality segments of the dog food category.

Pure Balance is the name of the “ultra-premium” dry dog food Walmart launched this week that is available in more than 2,900 Walmart stores. The product is said to contain no soy, wheat or corn additives, no artificial colors, no preservatives and no chicken by-products. Pure Balance's first and primary ingredient is either real lamb meat or poultry, and contains a blend of omega 6 and 3 fatty acids good for a healthy coat and skin. Additionally, the product supports vision health, as well as heart health and immunity. The brand will be available in a five-pound bag for $8.47, a 15-pound bag for $21.47 and a 30-pound bag for $39.98 – well above the price per pound of some leading brands such as Iams.

“Walmart customers, including me, consider our dogs family members so when it comes to their food we want the very best for them,” said Jody Pinson, VP pets at Walmart. “Our customers told us they wanted to be able to feed their dogs a dry food made with pure ingredients without having to make a special trip to the pet store. We listened and are excited to offer Pure Balance, an ultra premium dog food, at a price our customers can afford.”

Walmart said its new Pure Balance brand offers key benefits found in top pet specialty brands, and is already gaining notice from veterinarians who understand the benefits of a high-quality dry food and the press release announcing the launch included a quote from one.

“As a veterinarian, I am repeatedly asked to recommend diets for peoples’ pets, and I see a lot of benefits in switching to Pure Balance,” said Dr. Chip Lang, a veterinarian at the Cochranton Veterinary Hospital in Pennsylvania. “Pure Balance is formulated to contain a simple and well-balanced base of quality nutrients, while avoiding unnecessary additives. The combination of these benefits means that the diet could be recommended for healthy animals and pets with skin, intestinal or other allergies.”

The same can’t be said for Walmart’s Ol’ Roy brand, named after one of company founder Sam Walton’s hunting dogs. Although Ol’ Roy is said to be the nation’s number one brand of dog food, the product’s popularity stems from its low price as opposed to a reputation for quality ingredients.