Petco, others respond to demand for natural pet foods

Demand for healthy, natural food is extending from humans to their pets.

Petco says it will stop selling dog and cat food and treats with artificial colors, flavors and preservatives by May, both online and at its nearly 1,500 stores in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

Petco’s move is the first of its kind among major pet stores. It comes at a time when sales of natural pet foods are steadily rising.

The U.S. market share of natural pet products more than doubled to 6.5 percent between 2013 and 2017, according to Nielsen, a data company.

Sensing the growing trend, two big food companies — J.M. Smucker Co. and General Mills — spent billions to acquire the natural pet food brands Nutrish and Blue Buffalo earlier this year.

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