Whole Earth Farms Pet Food Review
Whole Earth Farms pet food is manufactured by Merrick Pet Care Inc. The Merrick company is best known for its main brand of pet food, which is simply called Merrick.
The Whole Earth Farms brand was introduced by the company in 2010. The primary difference between the two brands (Whole Earth Farms vs. Merrick) is the protein content and the price.
Merrick brand name pet foods are typically more expensive. Merrick brand name products also contain a higher protein content. Simply put, Whole Earth Farms is the lighter version of Merrick.
For small dogs and cats, the cost difference between the two brands would be insignificant. However, for medium and large breed dogs, switching from Merrick to Whole Earth Farms could yield significant savings.
Concerns Regarding Whole Earth Farms
Before we delve deeper into Whole Earth Farms, we must discuss an important development regarding Merrick Pet Care Inc.
In 2015, Merrick Pet Care was purchased by Nestle Purina PetCare. As you may known, Purina is an absolute giant in the pet food industry.
Purina owns some of the most recognizable pet food brands, including: Beneful, Dog Chow, Pro Plan, Alpo, Friskies, Fancy Feast, and others.
Most of these brands contain harmful ingredients such as artificial preservatives and artificial food coloring. Among other negative attributes, Purina is also notorious for using low quality ingredients such as anonymous meats and animal by-products.
If you visit the Purina website, you’ll notice that neither Merrick nor Whole Earth Farms are mentioned. As one would expect, Purina tries to distance itself from these premium brands.
Like other pet food companies, Purina owns and manages different brands which target different segments of the population. One brand may advertise that corn is an excellent ingredient, whereas another brand will focus on highlighting the fact that none of its products contain corn.
Simply put, Purina tries to produce pet foods and design marketing campaigns which can attract as many pet owners as possible.
It’s important to highlight that Whole Earth Farms is still a great brand of pet food. Purina is well aware of the high demand for premium pet food and is likely very concerned about maintaining that reputation for its premium brands (Merrick, Whole Earth Farms, Organix, etc).
Whole Earth Farms Dog Food Review
Whole Earth Farms makes more than 25 different varieties of dog food. The most important section of any dog food label is the first five ingredients. Within these ingredients, we’re specifically looking for named meat ingredients (chicken, beef, pork, venison, etc).
Each and every Whole Earth Farms dry dog food recipe contains meat as the first ingredient. More specifically, they contain a processed meat ingredient known as meat meal.
Meat meals such as chicken meal are produced by cooking meat using a processed called rendering. This processes dramatically reduces the natural moisture of meat, thereby resulting in a highly condensed meat-based protein source.
Whole Earth Farms wet (canned) dog food recipes also contain an animal-based protein source as the first ingredient. The remaining ingredients are mostly carbohydrates, animal fats, and supplements. Typically the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th ingredients are some type of carbohydrate. Given that Whole Earth Farms is a mid-tier brand of pet food, this is fairly common.
Overall, the ingredient labels for Whole Earth Farms are very clean. They do not contain any artificial preservatives, artificial colors, or anonymous meat-based ingredients.
The only potentially negative ingredient used in Whole Earth Farms Dog Food is alfalfa meal. Alfalfa is very high in plant-based protein and therefore can significantly impact the crude protein percentage reported on the label.
Plant based proteins are typically inferior to meat based proteins. Therefore the inclusion of a plant-based high protein ingredient can reduce the overall quality of protein in the dog food.
We'd like to mention that many high quality brands include alfalfa as a source of whole food micro-nutrients. However, these brands typically list alfalfa meal at the end of the ingredient label, whereas Whole Earth Farms includes alfalfa meal towards the middle.
Whole Earth Farms Original Dog Food
The original line of Whole Earth Farm Dog Food contains two recipes:
- Whole Earth Farms Puppy Recipe
- Whole Earth Farms Adult Recipe
Both of these recipes are made with roughly the same ingredients. The only major difference between the two products are the types of meat included. The puppy recipe contains chicken and salmon, whereas the adult recipe contains chicken and turkey.
Whole Earth Farms Grain Free Dog Food
The grain free product line of Whole Earth Farms provides significantly more variety. The grain free version of Whole Earth Farms also includes a complete line of wet (canned) dog food recipes.
The ingredients label of the original line and grain free line are very similar. However, the grain free line replaces all cereal grains (pearled barley, brown rice) with non-grain carbohydrates (sweet potatoes, peas).
The guaranteed analysis panel of the grain free formulas are almost identical to the original line.
Whole Earth Farms Cat Food Review
The Whole Earth Farms Cat Food product line only contains grain free cat foods. In total, you’ll find more than 20 different varieties of cat food to choose from. Roughly half of these options are wet (canned) foods.
Our overall process for evaluating Whole Earth Farms Cat Food is very similar to our analysis of the dog food line. We look at the first five ingredients, then we look for harmful/controversial ingredients, and finally we identify ingredients which may reduce the quality of protein reported.
In our analysis, we see that the ingredients panel for Whole Earth Farms Cat Food is very similar to the ingredients used in the dog food recipes.
For cat food, we prefer products which are mostly meat-based with very few carbohydrates. Unlike dogs, cats are obligate carnivores which do not need carbohydrates. In the modern cat diet, most products contain far too many carbohydrates.
Unfortunately, carbohydrates are required in the manufacturing process of kibble. However, higher quality cat foods typically minimize the amount of carbohydrates used.
If we evaluate an individual product such as the Whole Earth Farms Grain Free With Real Turkey & Duck Recipe, we’ll notice that this specific product contains an estimated 35.96% carbohydrates computed on a dry matter basis (DMB). In comparison, Merrick’s Purrfect Bistro Salmon Recipe contains only 29.21% (DMB). Finally, if we look at the much more expensive Orijen Cat & Kitten Recipe, we see an estimated carbohydrate percentage of 24.44% (DMB).
Although 35.96% is higher than we’d like for cat food, it’s not terribly high compared to similar products in its price range. However, in general, less carbohydrates and more protein would be ideal.
Thankfully, it appears that the wet (canned) Whole Earth Farms product line contain less carbohydrates. This is fairly common because carbohydrates are not required in the production of canned cat food, whereas they are required for kibble.
As an example, the Whole Earth Farms Grain Free Real Beef Cat Food Recipe contains an estimated 31.82% (DMB) carbohydrates and about 40.91% (DMB) protein.
We really like the ingredients included in the grain free wet cat foods. The beginning of the label includes multiple meat-based proteins, organ meats, and eggs. The remaining ingredients on the label are fairly clean, outside of the alfalfa meal which adds a significant amount of low-quality protein.
Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) Compliance
When choosing any new pet food, it’s important to ensure that the product is approved by AAFCO. Foods which meet the nutritional standards established by AAFCO will provide a nutritional adequacy statement on the packaging.
Here is an example of a nutritional adequacy statement provided by Whole Earth Farms.
“Whole Earth Farms Grain Free Recipe With Real Salmon For Cats is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Cat Food Nutrient Profiles for all life stages.”
Products offered by Whole Earth Farms are AAFCO approved. Therefore pet owners can rest assure knowing that the foods manufactured by Whole Earth Farms contain at least the minimum standards established by AAFCO for dogs and cats.
If a product does not contain this statement, the product cannot legally claim to be complete and balanced. To learn more about pet food regulations and the AAFCO nutritional adequacy statement, click here.
Whole Earth Farms Price
Whole Earth Farms is an affordable brand of pet food. The average price per pound for Whole Earth Farms Dog/Cat Food is about $2.50.
There are many great alternatives at or near this price point. If you're concerned about the Purina connection, you could switch to another brand of pet food with similar ingredients without paying much more.
Brands such as Blue Buffalo, Natural Balance, Canidae, and Taste of the Wild are all suitable alternatives to Whole Earth Farms. If you’d like to see a comprehensive list of alternatives, use our price comparison feature (adjust the price per pound slider as needed).
Where To Buy Whole Earth Farms
You can buy Whole Earth Farms from many different pet food retailers. The largest pet food chain which currently carries Whole Earth Farms is Petco.
If you'd prefer to purchase Whole Earth Farms online, consider these online retailers which typically carry a wide range of Whole Earth Farms pet foods: PetFlow, Pet360, Amazon, Jet, and Pet Food Direct.
If you’d like to see price comparison across all retailers for any Whole Earth Farms product, you can use our comprehensive price comparison feature.
Pet Food Quality & Safety
When it comes to food quality and safety, we can realistically only review these three points.
- Pet Food Recalls
- Ingredient Labels
- Company/Brand Statements
To date, Whole Earth Farms has not issued any pet food recalls. Therefore, we do not have any concrete reason to question the quality or safety of their products.
Furthermore, the ingredient labels for Whole Earth Farms are fairly clean. In other words, they do not contain harmful preservatives, food dyes, anonymous meats, or low-quality by-products. Thus, we have no reason to question the quality of ingredients used in their foods.
Finally, when we look at the companies website, we learn some very interesting facts. First, we learn that none of the ingredients used in Whole Earth Farms pet food are sourced from china.
Since the 2007 recall crisis, consumers have good reason to be concerned about ingredients sourced from China. Thankfully, this statement assures pet owners that Whole Earth Farms does not source ingredients from china.
Next, we learn that all of their foods are manufactured in the United States. Here is the statement provided by Whole Earth Farms:
"Our kibble and canned recipes (including new grain free options) are cooked in the USA.”
Unfortunately, there are no other significant pieces of information provided on their website. We don’t know exactly where ingredients are sourced from and what quality standards are in place.
The brand's website also does not provide any information regarding product safety procedures or any detailed information regarding the facilities which manufacture Whole Earth Farm pet food products. In fact, their website is very plain and only provides the bare minimum amount of information.
In conclusion, after looking at all three pieces of information (pet food recalls, ingredients, and company website), we have no reason to question the safety or the quality of products offered by this brand.
Whole Earth Farms is an affordable pet food brand which is free of unnecessary ingredients and harmful additives. In general, the ingredients used by this brand appear to be of good quality. For pet owners in the market for an affordable, safe, and fairly nutritious brand of dog or cat food, Whole Earth Farms is a good choice.
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