Honest Kitchen

Pet owners are looking to natural pet food brands for comfort and peace of mind when feeding their pets. Honest Kitchen makes food products and treats for cats and dogs and is based out of San Diego, California. The company was founded in 2002 and remained a husband and wife team for a few years before moving into the historic Wonder Bread building in 2006. Honest Kitchen was the first human-grade dog food company in existence when it was founded.

Today, Honest Kitchen has around 50 employees and has over 5,000 distributors throughout North America. The founder, Lucy Postins, originally had no plans to create a large business and thought Honest Kitchen would sell locally as a direct-to-consumer business. Customers grew in large numbers by word-of-mouth, helping to create what Honest Kitchen is today.

Customer Observations

Honest Kitchen conducted their own customer survey to see what difference was made in their pet’s health after eating the brand’s foods. The survey took information from 6,200 customers and overall shows that the majority of customers are pleased with the results.

  • 80% of those surveyed reported better digestion
  • 79% reported their pet had more energy
  • 78% reported healthier skin and coat
  • 64% of pets had an increase in appetite
  • 60% of pets had an improvement with weight

Honest Kitchen holds an annual benchmark survey to receive proper feedback from their customers. This is used to make any needed changes to their formulas.

Ingredients

Honest Kitchen uses 100% human-grade ingredients. They make meals, treats, toppers, and supplements/broth. The company is dedicated to the highest quality of ingredients. There are:

  • No GMO ingredients
  • No preservatives or additives
  • No by-products or fillers
  • No corn, wheat, and soy are used
  • No 4D meat (food that has been sourced from dead, dying, diseased, or disabled animals)
  • No feathers
  • Does not use ingredients from China

Honest Kitchen is transparent with where they get their ingredients from. They get the majority of their ingredients within the United States but receive some from South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa as well. Ingredients that Honest Kitchen use in their pet food includes fresh fruits and vegetables and raw food including:

  • Free range chicken
  • Cage-free duck
  • Ranch raised beef
  • Cage-free turkey
  • Wild Salmon
  • Marine Stewardship Council certified cod and pollock
  • Apples
  • Chickpeas
  • Eggs
  • Garlic
  • Lentils
  • Kale
  • Potatoes
  • Pumpkin
  • Flaxseed
  • Oats
  • Barley
  • Honey
  • Green peas
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Quinoa
  • And more

Suppliers must adhere to a strict safety guideline, just as Honest Kitchen does. Honest Kitchen prides themselves in their selection of suppliers, who are sustainable and follow fair-trade practices. Each year the company reevaluates its suppliers to check that they are still meeting their high set of standards; this includes adhering to Good Manufacturing Practices, and that food remains at human-grade status throughout every step of the harvesting and handling processes.

Human-Grade vs. Feed-Grade

Honest Kitchen compares its food to brands that are feed-grade. The distinction is an important one to make for many pet owners who want to know what they are feeding their animals. Feed-grade brands use ingredients of lesser quality that have looser regulations. Feed-grade meets the very basic standards for animal feed and also use meats that are 4D or from restaurant waste.

Human-grade ingredients are subjected to stricter manufacturing and quality control standards as well as stricter food safety standards. Ingredients are of higher quality and contain no by-products or 4D meats. Human-grade means that humans can eat the food, too. Honest Kitchen believes that if a human cannot eat their pet’s food, why should owners serve it? The staff members do taste the food they are producing.

The Cooking Process

There are a few different ways that pet food brands will cook their ingredients. They can freeze-dry, air dry, or dehydrate the ingredients to remove moisture. Honest Kitchen uses the dehydration process. Their kitchen dehydrates at a low temperature to ensure that the phytonutrients and antioxidants in the ingredients are not compromised.

According to Honest Kitchen, 40 pounds of fresh ingredients will make a ten-pound box of their food due to the concentration of the dehydration process.

Honest Kitchen recently put out the world’s first human-grade dry, dog food to the market. They had to make a new facility that would allow this idea to come to a reality. The new process is coined MadeHonest.

The whole food, human-grade ingredients are gathered, cold-pressed, then roasted and dehydrated to create their clusters. All ingredients are minimally processed and are finely grained for easy digestion.

Sizing and Pricing

Dog food has a wider range than Honest Kitchen cat food does. Their dog food meals are typically available in a 12-pack of single cups, one-pound box, four-pound box, and ten-pound box. Prices range from $20 to $70 based on size and product. Treats range in price between $9 and $12.

Their cat food comes in either a two-pound or four-pound box. The smaller box costs $25, and the four-pound box costs $46. Unlike the broad range in dog flavors, cats can have either chicken or turkey.

Is it Worth it?

Honest Kitchen’s mission is always to stay true to having 100% human-grade ingredients. The company wants to produce safer and healthier food than feed-grade brands. The company has been in production for 17 years and is still staying true to their promise.

Pros

  • Uses 100% human-grade ingredients
  • Uses eco-friendly packaging
  • Published a recipe book called Made out of Love
  • Free shipping on orders over $49
  • The Honest Kitchen website allows customers to fill out a brief questionnaire to match them with the ideal food for their pet
  • Honest Kitchen was featured on Food Network’s show, Will Work for Food in 2009 and was featured on the cover of BusinessWeek in 2012
  • The founder, Lucy Postins, was recognized twice by Forbes for the ethical efforts in her business
  • Is continually innovating their products and producing new ones

Cons

  • Compared to the 77 products for dogs, there are only five for cats
  • Do not offer samples of their products before purchase

Honest Kitchen has remained a relatively small business with like-minded people who share the same goal- feeding their pets the healthiest and safest food possible. The brand is highly reputable and lives up to their strict standards. Honest Kitchen products can be found here.

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