Sunday, January 31, 2010

Kibble versus RMB: A Cost Comparison

Some people tell me they can't afford to feed their dogs raw-meaty-bones.  They feed kibble, because they believe raw meats and meaty bones cost more.  I did a cost comparison for Hawaii dogs.  Admittedly, our prices are higher than mainland prices for almost everything, because more than 90% of foods are shipped into the state from the mainland.  But let's look at comparative costs of feeding kibble versus rmb, some of which also comes from mainland sources.

The first problem in a comparison is that kibbles and meats are sold in pounds and priced per lb.  But recommended amounts of kibble to feed daily are given on kibble bags in cups.  Cups of kibble do not equate easily to pounds, because kibbles differ in density.  One cup of a premium kibble may weight 1.5 times as much as a store-brand kibble.  The lower price of the store brand conceals the fact that more of it must be fed to provide the same number of calories to the pet.  Thus, a consumer is unlikely to be able to make a good price comparison or to know the actual cost of feeding a selected kibble to a pet.

To make a price comparison of  kibble and raw-meaty-bones, I chose a premium kibble with a 30-year track record of sales,Wysong Maintenance.  It's not fancy and does not pretend to be "natural", but it begins processing with healthy ingredients and adds probiotics and nutraceuticals for extra nutrition.  3.5 cups of Wysong Maintenance weighs exactly one pound.  A Wysong Maintenance bag says to feed a 50-pound dog about 3.5 cups/ day.

The metric for feeding rmb is about 2% of the dog's adult weight/ day.  A 50-pound dog would be fed a pound of rmb/ day.  So, a fair comparison is the cost of one pound of Wysong kibble with one pound of rmb -- both enough to feed a 50-pound dog for a day.

Kona Raw Pet Food Co-op, like hundreds of raw pet-food co-ops across North America, buys meats and meaty bones at wholesale prices for members.  Let's  average the cost of chicken ($0.99/lb), beef organ meats ($0.80/lb), beef muscle meats ($1.75/lb), and meaty bones ($1.05/lb) in a ratio of 35% chicken, 20% organs, 30% beef, and 15% meaty bones.  The average cost of one pound of meat in this ratio is $1.44.  Feeding a 50-pound dog a varied, rmb diet costs about $1.44/day. If we fed more chicken and less beef, the price would be less.  If we substituted some pork for some of the beef, the cost would be less. 

The cost of one pound of Wysong Maintenance in Hawaii is $2.00.  Lest you think, this brand is relatively expensive, I analyzed the prices of pet foods from PETCO, a large national pet chain with a local store. All of their "premium" brand kibbles cost between $2.00 and $3.33/lb.  Compared to an excellent, varied, rmb diet, premium kibbles cost 39% to 131%  more than raw meats and meaty bones.

Only plain and store-brand dog chows cost less than $2/lb.  Purina costs $0.85/lb.  Let's suppose that you have to feed 1.5 times more Purina chow to provide a calorie content comparable to Hill's Science Diet or Wysong Maintenance.  The real cost of Purina chow is $1.27/day for a 50-pound dog. For pet owners who feed non-premium kibbles, a diet of chicken ($0.99/lb), beef organ meat ($0.95/lb), and raw meaty beef bones ($1.05/lb) is price-competitive and far healthier.

Pouring kibble from a bag is easy.  Handing dogs raw-meaty bones is also pretty easy, once you get the idea.  A new member of Kona Raw Pet Food Co-op said to me yesterday, with some consternation, that she would have to change the place she usually fed her three dogs from the lanai to outdoors.  Yes, I said, and you won't have anything to clean up.  Pet owners who have fed kibble for years have some adjustments to make in their thinking to feed rmb. Most of the time, you don't need bowls, so there are no dishes to wash.

A price-comparison of raw meats and meaty bones show that feeding kibble is usually more expensive and certainly less healthy, both for the dogs' teeth and for their lifetimes.  No excuses: A rmb diet is both cost-effective and far better for pets.

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for the numbers! I have been meaning to do this kind of calculation since I started but do not have the actual diet plan figured out yet and have just been buying from the supermarket until I can get into a system so I am of course paying more but know it won't always be this way. I used to feed premium kibble and did a cost comparison of supermarket vs premium to show that it was not more expensive and found it interesting that the bags of supermarket stuff did not tell you the weight per cup which seems almost a deliberate way to make it hard to compare. My huge 100lb dog ate a little less than 4 cups of premium and a friend's 40 lb dog also at 4cups a day but people don't see that when they are comparing bags. Cost was one of my concerns about raw before deciding to switch so it is nice to see someone lay this out intelligently with actual numbers! Well done!

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