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Product News: Champion Petfoods (Orijen & Acana)

A response from Amy & JP, owners of Unleashed, the Dog & Cat Store, to breaking news regarding Champion Pet Foods being acquired:

It has just been announced that Mars Petcare is acquiring Champion Petfoods (press release). For many years, Unleashed has carried Champion products in our stores; you may be more familiar with their brand names- Orijen and Acana. We added these foods when they made positive changes to their ingredient formulations and quality and we found that they met our strict standards. Throughout the years we have had faith in Champion to offer top quality products in order to support the health of the dogs and cats who trust us. We are constantly evaluating every food in our store to ensure that they continue to meet our standards. The acquisition of Champion by Mars makes us no longer confident in the future quality of Orijen and Acana products.

Will you continue carrying Champion (Orijen & Acana) in Unleashed stores?

In short, no. But there will be a grace period. We will begin phasing these products out gradually over the next two months. The products on our shelves now were manufactured before the acquisition announcement, and we still feel confident in them. We do not foresee immediate quality changes to Orijen and Acana foods in 2022 as the transaction will not be finalized until 2023. Thus, we feel comfortable selling Champion through the end of 2022, and would love to work with you to help smooth the transition to a new food, if you choose to do so. Our goal is for all Champion Petfoods to be phased out by the end of this year (12/31/2022.)

Why won’t you carry products from brands owned by Mars?

Mars (Mars, Incorporated) is a global food company that owns a very large share of the pet food market, in addition to many food and candy brands. The pet food products that they currently own do not meet our standards for ingredient transparency, formulation, quality and value. We have followed as Mars and other global companies have made purchases of other natural pet food companies over the years, and have found that these acquisitions always led to changes in those brands that maximize profit at the cost of quality. Mars Petcare’s current pet brands include Iams, Nutro, Eukanuba, Royal Canin, Pedigree, Whiskas, Greenies and more. You may also know them for their candy brands like Snickers, M&M’s and Skittles. With many options for pet food companies to work with, we feel most confident working with ones that put all of their focus on their pet food brands and are open and transparent with us. We love working with companies where we have the direct contact information of the CEO/owner and are invited to tour the manufacturing plant (we have been on many plant tours!) We love to get to know the ownership, the formulator, and the rest of the people making the decisions behind ingredient selection, sourcing, and more. The better we know the company, the more confident we can feel in honoring our mission to offer our customers the best quality products.

I have fed Orijen and/or Acana for years; it is all my animals have ever eaten. What do I do now?

We understand, and we are here for you! We have several brands of foods already in our stores that are very similar in composition to these products. Our employees are trained extensively on transitioning pets from one food to another, as we preach rotation in foods as a healthy practice. Some of the brands you may consider that you can find in Unleashed stores today are Nature’s Logic Distinction, Open Farm, Carna4, Fromm, (Lotus coming soon) and more. We would also love to talk about our freeze-dried and raw options such as Small Batch, Steve’s, and Stella & Chewy’s just to name a few. We are happy to provide samples (as available), and also want to let you know that all foods at Unleashed come with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If you try a new food and it does not work out for ANY reason (even if your dog or cat is just picky and doesn’t like it,) we will happily take it back and keep working to find the best possible solution for your family. Should you choose, Champion products should still be available at most other retailers.

What happens to my frequent buyer program?

Almost to that free bag? No worries. As huge proponents of rotational feeding, our frequent buyer program at Unleashed is completely mix and match! When you buy 12 similarly sized bags of any dry dog or cat food, we give you a free similarly sized bag of whichever brand and/or flavor is working for your pet at the time of redemption. The good news is that you will not lose credit for your Champion (Orijen & Acana) purchases! They will roll right into whichever new food works for your pet(s).

Why not just keep carrying Champion if customers want to buy it and keep supporting Unleashed?

We resolved long ago to never compromise on what we feel is right for the animals that rely on us. That is the reason we constantly keep track of the pet food world- to make choices based on what we believe is in the best interest of pets and free from the influence of profitability. There are many products that we could sell at Unleashed that would make the company very profitable, but we sleep well at night knowing that anything you pick out in our stores is something we would personally feed our own animals.

We created our mission statement when we started Unleashed 15 years ago and it continues to guide us today and forevermore. Our mission is “to provide the best a Dog and Cat can get, at affordable prices, so that every dog and cat can be as happy and healthy as ours.”

We want to sincerely thank you for being an Unleashed customer, and hope you will continue to trust us when making choices for your furry ones. Although we can’t be everywhere all the time, know that we truly appreciate each and every one of you and will consider nothing but the best for your family.

Yours truly,

Amy and JP

owners/founders, Unleashed, LLC aka Unleashed, the Dog & Cat Store


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