The PFI: gearing up for a safe and healthy pet food industry

Formed in 1998 and with unwavering focus, the Pet Food Industry Association of Southern Africa (PFI) has always been committed to upholding quality and safety in pet nutrition. Their recent rebranding exercise aims to revive consumer and trade interest, to build an understanding of this core function, ultimately aiming to grow its membership base from its current 57 members.

“The Association is owned and committed to by numerous industry operations – the PFI Members – that agree to adhere to the same building blocks on which the PFI is built – a foundation of health and safety in pet nutrition.” notes Barry Hundley, Executive Director of the PFI.

The renewed energy within the Association aims to increase education about the PFI’s purpose. “The rebrand signifies our commitment to improving communication with our consumers and members – a benefit of which will be increased public demand for all pet food brands to become members of the PFI. It also represents our commitment to ourselves – realigning the PFI internally with our Members’ needs. To this end, our new look is more than mere aesthetics, it is a renewed commitment to our vision – to improve the long term care and wellbeing of pets by instilling trust in safe, commercial pet nutrition.”

As a representative body of the pet food industry, the PFI enhances and improves the industry landscape, for both industry players and South African consumers, by:

  1. Being a credible and reliable voice for stakeholders

  2. Confirming that legislation dealing with pet nutrition and quality & food safety standards is on par with international standards; is updated with new developments and is in the best interests of the industry and the wellbeing of the pet; and that it is applied equally by all market participants to promote a safe, sustainable environment

  3. Ensuring pet food is safe and of a high quality, such that it is not only safe for the pet, but also for humans who purchase and store the foods with their own consumables

  4. Educating and communicating with South African pet owners about quality standards being maintained, to build confidence in the commercial pet food market and ultimately a growth in the calorie penetration of commercially prepared pet foods

  5. Promoting responsible pet ownership

  6. Self-policing to ensure quality products on-shelf, for both members and non-members, by conducting testing of products randomly purchased from the market place with independent, accredited laboratories and thereafter taking issues up with the manufacturers and escalating non-compliance to the Legislator

  7. Receipt and investigation of consumer concerns related to the nutritional value of commercial pet foods, via email (pfi-sa@iafrica.com) or the website (www.pfisa.co.za)

  8. Enabling the industry with performance and sales data.

Any industry association functions at optimal levels when all market players participate, which, in this case, would indicate an industry-wide commitment to the same vision supported by the PFI. At this optimum state, the industry would be well-positioned to maintain and build trust with consumers already in the practice of feeding their pets commercially bought food. It would, at the same time, grow the commercial pet food market, by acquiring a large portion of the market who incorrectly believe it is best to feed pets human diets. This common misconception is often a result of previous experiences with below standard commercial foods.

To minimize the potential for future negative experiences, the PFI maintains a strict code of conduct, which is an obligatory set of rules that all members must adhere to and whereby members may not act in any manner that is detrimental to the industry, the market, the pet or that brings the PFI into disrepute.

Consumers should question whether the brand that they choose for their pets is a member of the PFI – a clear indication that these brands have the wellbeing of pets at heart, and that they support the ideals and principles of the PFI. Membership is easily identified with the PFI logo, proudly displayed on packaging and advertising, or as listed on www.pfisa.co.za. The PFI is happy to field queries if one is unsure of a brand’s PFI membership status.

“We need to enforce an industry that ensures ethical sales and marketing, because gaining consumer and member trust is of critical importance for a healthy and financially sound industry. This rebrand is our renewed commitment to this end, and although focus has not changed over the years, we are excited to reaffirm our commitment in the public space,” concludes Hundley.

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