Target jumps into pet food biz with launch of in-house brand Kindful. Declines to answer questions recommended by vets for evaluating pet food, but promises response by Tuesday.

This weekend, Target joined the growing list of retailers getting their paws in the $42 billion US pet food market which saw nearly 10% growth in 2020; of all of the sectors in an all-around thriving industry, pet food is the sub-sector that has done exceedingly well.

Target (TGT) will report its second-quarter earnings on Wednesday, which is expected to reinforce the picture of how Target and Walmart quickly became part of the fabric of pandemic success stories by overhauling every aspect of their operations, logistics, e-commerce, etc. to remain competitive with Amazon. Most notably was the introduction of curbside shopping services, as well as same-day deliveries for much of the country.

Unfortunately, we are not able to report much about the new pet food brand apart from quoting statements we were provided by the company’s press office promising that the food is healthy and safe. However, when asked to provide answers to the questions we ask any pet food business we write about, drawing on the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) Guidelines for selecting a pet food, which is what your own veterinarian will likely refer you to if you ask how to research pet food, Target executive vice president Katie Boylan did not respond, and a communications staffer would only say that Target does not share specifics but that he would reach out to partners and come back to us Tuesday morning. Since the launch occurred on Sunday, we felt it was appropriate to proceed with our story. However, we will come back to them for comment Tuesday morning and either update this report or do a follow-up piece depending on the amount and substance of the information.

Asked for the name of a nutritionist or nutritionists who worked on the recipes, for any specifics about quality control, Target’s executive vice president and chief communications officer Katie Boylan did not respond. Our repeated requests to the company, including, eventually, Ms. Boylan, even for the name of the manufacturer also went unanswered. Communications officer Konnor Schmaltz would only say,

“Unfortunately, we don’t share these specifics. What I’m happy to share is that Target’s in-house owned brand and design team created Kindfull to offer affordable, healthy options that are better for their dogs and cats. Our in-house team worked with pet food and nutrition experts for over a year developing this new brand.

Also, all Kindfull foods, treats, and dry toppers are developed by scientists and pet food experts with training and experience in pet food product development, manufacturing, nutrition, food safety, quality, and regulations.”

Again, the questions themselves, including “Who makes the food,” were not unreasonable or complicated – nor should they have been unexpected. can’t manipulate or intimidate.

And we hope to hear back from Target.


For your reference, the WSAVA guidelines are here:

“If the manufacturer cannot or will not provide any of this information, veterinarians and owners should be cautious about feeding that brand.”