Despite the inflation and supply chain troubles, it’s a great time to be a pet owner in 2023. According to a recent APPA report, 70% of households in the States own a pet. That means 90+ million homes in the country have at least one furry member of the family. And they all have to eat something! There are more than enough dog and cat food brands in America—that’s never been an issue.
However, some of the largest US-based companies are in the business of outsourcing food manufacturing. But most pet parents in the country prefer US-made food over stuff made overseas. And that’s exactly why we created this list! Join us, and let’s take a look at the biggest pet food manufacturers that do, indeed, focus on domestic production!
The Biggest Pet Food Manufacturers in the US in 2023
|Hill’s Pet Nutrition||
|Diamond Pet Foods||
|Spectrum Brands/United Pet Group||
The 13 Biggest Pet Food Manufacturers in the US
1. Hill’s Pet Nutrition
|Company revenue:||3.3 billion US dollars|
|Famous brands:||Prescription Diet, Science Diet|
With annual revenue of $3.3 billion, Hill’s Pet Nutrition is the undisputed champ. Founded more than 100 years ago (in 1907, to be exact) in Kansas, this company specializes in premium-quality food both for cats and dogs. The list of available products is quite impressive (they’ve got over 300 products in the line-up), with the Prescription Diet and Science Diet foods leading the charge.
Hill’s Pet Nutrition is known and praised for developing its pet food with the aid of veterinarians to support domestic animals with specific health conditions. That’s why this brand is often recommended by licensed vets. The company is owned by Colgate-Palmolive.
2. General Mills
|Company revenue:||1.7 billion US dollars|
|Famous brands:||Blue Buffalo, True Chews, Top Chews, Nudges|
Here we have another pet food giant. Hailing from Minnesota, General Mills focuses on making healthy, nutritious, and delicious foods full of meat. It’s been around for 150+ years and has a strong foothold in the US market. Some of its best-selling brands include True Chews, Nudges, and, of course, Blue Buffalo (acquired back in 2018 for $8 billion).
Very few dog/cat food brands can compare to them in terms of ingredient quality. Last year, the company made $1.7 billion in revenue, the same as in 2020. A quick note: General Mills is one of the largest manufacturers of cereal products and owns a wide range of brands, including Chex and Cheerios.
3. Diamond Pet Foods
|Company revenue:||1.5 billion US dollars|
|Famous brands:||Diamond Performance, Diamond Naturals, NutraGold|
Moving on with the list, let’s take a quick look at Diamond Pet Foods, the fifth-largest player on the market with $1.5 billion in 2021. DPF is trusted by millions of American pet parents. So, what did it do to deserve their trust? First, its roster includes top-quality brands like Diamond Naturals, Performance, and NutraGold. Second, its smart pricing policy does a great job of attracting new clients.
The company makes both dry and wet dog foods. So, if you only want the best treats and snacks for your pet but are on a slightly tight budget, Diamond Pet Foods might be a great pick. This family-run business (owned by Schell & Kampeter) also has excellent products for injured and sensitive furry animals.
|Company revenue:||1.0 billion US dollars|
|Famous brands:||Alphia, C.J. Foods (former), American Nutrition (former)|
And what can a one-billion-dollar company bring to the table? For starters, Alphia is the youngest pet food manufacturer on the list. It was formed only two years ago—in 2020—as the result of a merger between American Nutrition and C.J. Foods. Majority-owned by J.H. Whitney, it had all the necessary funds and human resources (over 800 people are employed there) to quickly rise to stardom.
On average, Alphia produces one billion pounds of pet food each year, and the numbers are predicted to go up.
5. Spectrum Brands/United Pet Group
|Company revenue:||951 million US dollars|
|Famous brands:||Wild Harvest, Nature’s Miracle|
Just $49 million shy of hitting that $1 billion mark, the United Pet Group is famous for its Nature’s Miracle and Wild Harvest brands, to name a few. It’s a relatively new company (been on the market for 25 years) but already gives the bigger pet food makers a run for their money. The key to success here is not only in the quality of the products, but also its diversity.
The United Pet Group makes food for fish, rabbits, birds, rodents, and, of course, dogs and cats.
6. Merricks Pet Care
|Company revenue:||485 million US dollars|
|Famous brands:||Backcountry, Full Source, Whole Earth Farms|
Almost half a billion US dollars made in a year and potential for steady growth—that’s the best way to describe Merricks Pet Care. Just like all the other manufacturers on the list, it takes pride in making premium dry and wet food for domestic animals (including lots of grain-free recipes) using exclusively US-grown ingredients. More good news: they produce every single pack in the States.
Next, all the “heavy lifting” is done at the company’s facilities in Hereford, Texas.
|Company revenue:||464 million US dollars|
|Famous brands:||Freshpet, Vital, Nature’s Fresh|
|Headquarters:||Secaucus, New Jersey|
We’re used to keeping open cans of dog and cat food in the fridge. However, the Freshpet products are recommended to keep in the freezer the second you get them. This allows the ingredients to stay 100% fresh and nutritious for the fluffy beast. This unusual approach helped Freshpet generate $464 million, landing it the #7 spot on our list of the largest pet companies in America.
Natural chicken or beef is always the main ingredient in this manufacturer’s food and treats.
8. Sunshine Mills
|Company revenue:||420 million US dollars|
|Famous brands:||EVOLVE, Meaty Treats, Nurture Farms|
|Headquarters:||Red Bay, Alabama|
The competition in the food market is tougher than ever, but Sunshine Mills managed to make $420 million in 12 months, earning the title of a top-10 best-selling pet company. The list of premium food brands is rather impressive, too, and includes fan-favored names like Meaty Treats, EVOLVE, and Nurture Farms with flavors like sweet potatoes.
Sunshine Mills has over 1,000 employees, with multiple certified plants across the States. The HQ is located in the picturesque Red Bay in Alabama and this is a family-owned and operated business. The company’s reach is far beyond America: they deliver products to Latin America, Asia, and Canada.
9. Tuffy’s Pet Food/KLN Family Brands
|Company revenue:||288 million US dollars|
|Famous brands:||Tuffy’s Gold, PureVita, Nutrisource|
With average annual revenue of $250–$300 million dollars, Tuffy’s Pet Food has a permanent spot on the list of the largest pet food manufacturers in the States. The company was founded in 1964 and took little time to become a full-scale, crowd-favored manufacturer of organic and natural pet foods. Owned by KLN Family Brands, it sells products like Nutrisource, PureVita, and Tuffy’s Gold series.
Primarily based in Perham, Minnesota, the company has almost 300 employees and large facilities across the States. They work on providing pups and kittens with equally healthy and tasty foods.
10. Nature’s Variety
|Company revenue:||158 million US dollars|
|Famous brands:||Instinct, Prairie|
|Headquarters:||St. Louis, Missouri|
If your pet likes to chew on something raw, the Instinct food line by Nature’s Variety might be their favorite new treat. Now, this pet food maker is not nearly as popular as some of the Fortune 500 companies, but it does have its fair share of the market. Based in St. Louis, Missouri, NV has been active for 20 years now (since 2002), slowly, but steadily perfecting the original formula.
And with $158 million generated from the Lincoln, Nebraska facilities, it made it through the tough pandemic years with flying colors, thanks to a loyal fan base across the States. Nature’s Variety is a leader when it comes to natural and raw pet products and has enjoyed a 30% sales increase over 2010.
11. Kent Pet Group
|Company revenue:||100 million US dollars|
|Famous brands:||Blue Seal, Kent|
Did you know that the famous Blue Seal brand belongs to the Kent Pet Group? That’s right, and this company is known for its scientific approach to making foods for pets. Their products are also sold under the Kent brand, and together with Blue Seal, they generated precisely $100 million in 12 months. Sustainability is at the very heart of the Kent Corp.
They put a lot of effort into minimizing their impact on the planet’s resources and use forward-thinking technology for recycling and reusing Mother Nature’s resources. The Kent Pet Group doesn’t only make food, though. Their portfolio also includes some of the most popular cat litter and bedding products out there (World’s Best and Fibre Cycle).
12. Nunn Milling
|Company revenue:||80 million US dollars|
|Famous brands:||Hunter’s Select, Ocean Plenty|
Balanced nutrition—that’s what Nunn Milling excels at. By using the best ingredients, the company managed to sell $80 million worth of pet food in 2021, which landed it the #12 spot on the list. You’ve probably seen brands like Ocean Plenty and Hunter’s Select at a local store or when navigating through top sellers online. Well, both manufacturers belong to Nunn Milling.
Made in the USA, the foods produced by this company have a near-perfect mix of vitamins, minerals, fats, and protein, which equals strong muscles and bones for your dog or cat. Oh, and if you own a bird instead, Nunn Milling has some treats for it as well.
13. Better Choice Company
|Company revenue:||56 million US dollars|
|Famous brands:||Halo, TruDog|
Last, but not least, the Better Choice Company owns TruDog and Halo (among other brands) and takes pride in producing 100% American-made pet food. Compared to the likes of Hill’s Pet Nutrition or General Mills, it’s got tiny annual revenue ($56 million in 2021). Still, if you’re looking to support a US-based manufacturer and treat your pet with premium-quality meals, this company deserves your attention.
Free-fried and grain-free, TruDog raw dog foods are rich in meat (protein) and carefully packaged to avoid contamination. As for Halo, it has both dog- and cat-specific products (including toppers, chews, and treats) that can help keep your favorite four-legged friend healthy and happy.
How Big Is the Pet Food Market?
It’s enormous! In 2021, folks in the US spent $123+ billion on their pets. And, approximately 40% of the budget—$50 billion—was accounted for by food and treats. If we break that number into annual expenses, we’ll see that American households spend $290 on dogs and $255 on cats each year. On average, pet owners spend $500 on pets in 12 months.
As for the global pet food market, it’s estimated to reach $114 billion by 2026. Northern America is predicted to be the biggest spender, along with the EU. Additionally, US-based pet food manufacturers generate great value, boosting the economy.
What’s the Biggest US-Based Pet Food Company?
Mars Petcare is the largest pet food manufacturer in America, with $19 billion in revenue in 2021. This year, Mars made more money than Coca-Cola! Purina PetCare (owned by Nestle) is the second-biggest producer, making $16.5 billion last year. Moving up the list, we have Hill’s Pet Nutrition ($3.3 billion), J.M. Smucker ($2.7 billion), and General Mills ($1.7 billion).
Why aren’t some of these companies on the list? They outsource a chunk of the production duties to their facilities in third parties. We’re talking about China, the UK, Ireland, and the Netherlands, to name a few. While that doesn’t necessarily mean bad news for your furry friend, most Americans do prefer their pet food to be made locally.
What Does “Made In the USA” Stand For?
This labeling is often found on food sold in the States, but what does it actually mean? According to the Federal Trade Commission, products that claim to be manufactured in the US need to be “all of virtually all” made in America. We’re talking about the ingredients, packaging, and everything in between. Otherwise, it will be a violation of the safety and quality standards set by the FTC.
In contrast, products that are made outside of the US don’t have to adhere to these standards. And this can sometimes be a problem because very few countries have the same laws, penalties, or monitoring capabilities as the States. For example, back in 2007, the FDA found contaminants (mainly melamine) in certain ingredients imported from China that were killing pets. The situation is much better today, though.
How to Read the Labels Right: A Quick Guide
To trick potential buyers into believing that their product is, indeed, made in the States, many companies put the American flag on the package. In other cases, you’ll see something like “manufactured for” or “sourced in the USA”. This usually indicates that while the brand is US-based, the food was fully or partially manufactured outside of the country.
Surprisingly, these persuasion techniques are often used by big brands that try to hide the origins of their ingredients. They even use the “Made in the USA” stamp, hoping to avoid FTC’s all-seeing eye. Back in 2015, Democrats asked the FTC to be more thorough and strict towards food producers that abuse the “made in the USA” claim. Sadly, not much has changed since then.
We all want our four-legged friends to be healthy, get the right nutrients and chew on tasty snacks and meals. That’s why it’s so important to make sure you’re getting the right food for your dog or cat. Unfortunately, while most pet brands in the States do produce the goods domestically, some companies like Mars manufacture a large amount of their food and supplies in third countries.
True, Mars is the biggest pet food brand in the US, but, thankfully, it’s not the only one. Today, we checked out 13 local manufacturers that only sell US-made products instead of importing them from plants located outside of America. So, pick a food from one of these companies, and surprise your pet with a delicious new treat!
Featured Image Credit: Irina Kozorog, Shutterstock