Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Think Smartpaks are expensive? Part I

The other day, someone on Facebook commented that Smartpaks are so expensive.  My first response was "Hey, what's your time worth?" But then I wondered, are they really more expensive? If so, how much?  I decided to attempt some math (gulp) to answer this question.

The cost analysis

I've talked about the benefits of Smartpak (e.g., convenience, dose control, ease feeding) in other blog posts, so this post will focus on costs. For this comparison I chose three representative supplements that are  popular, reputable, and widely available: Cosequin powder, Farrier's Formula, and Grand Complete. To get costs for the supplement by-the-bucket purchases I selected Valley Vet. Why? Because in a previous blog post on online horse product suppliers I found them to be the cheapest source of many equestrian items.  Comparing Smartpak to a traditionally pricey  source (e.g.,  Dover Saddlery) would be too easy.

About the chart
The chart below shows cost per serving  and cost per day (including shipping costs) for these three supplements purchased from:
  • Valley Vet by the bucket
  • Smartpak by the bucket
  • Smartpak by the pack
If you can't read the tiny print, click here to see the Google spreadsheet.
    Comparison of  costs: Valley Vet vs. Smartpak Buckets vs. Smartpak Packs
    Smartpak buckets vs Valley Vet buckets
    First, look  at per serving costs. Smartpak provides a per-serving cost on all of it's products but I added in shipping to that cost. After adjusting for shipping and servings per bucket...
    • Smartpak buckets from Grand Complete and Farrier's Formula are cheaper by about 25 cents. 
    • Valley Vet is offering free shipping for Cosequin Equine Powder right now, so it is cheaper by 10 cents/serving than Smartpak at this time.
    Valley Vet buckets vs Smartpak packs
    Next, compare Valley Vet buckets to the value-added sealed Smartpak packets. Here's the big surprise:
    • Grand Meadows Complete in Smartpak packs is more than 30 cents cheaper per serving than Valley Vet buckets.  
    • For Cosequin Equine Powder, Smartpak packs cost only 1 penny more per day, even though Valley Vet is running a special (free shipping). 
    • For the Farrier's Formula the Smartpaks are about 6 cents cheaper per day.
       For someone buying all three supplements, Smartpak is significantly cheaper (by almost 40 cents per day). I did similar comparisons across a few other supplements to make sure these weren't flukes. My conclusion:  many, if not most supplements cost the same, or even less, in Smartpaks.

      What is the most significant factor determining cost? I have a few more observations which I'll share in Part II.


      1. I have been using Smartpak for a few years, and I have never had a complaint. Thanks for breaking it down for us, I like Valley Vet as well, but I think I will be sticking with Smartpak. :)

      2. Funny how different companies get reputations for high/low pricing-and its often not true. I work for a supplement company and we are often seen as the "high" priced ones. But when you look at per day costs and amount of nutrients per serving it's basically equal or even less.

        As an FYI we sell to Smartpak in bulk/non bucket form at a lower price per serving than the catalogs get the buckets for.

      3. I've never understood why people say Smartpaks are more expensive. I did a little excel spreadsheet of my own for the supplements I use, and it's definitely cheaper for me to use Smartpaks. Helpful to see that my calculations weren't a fluke - thanks!

      4. I don't think Smartpaks have made it to the UK yet :-( but my preferred joint supplement has just started being offered as a box of single use sachets.

        One of the other liveries was asking why bother with sachets - until we did some mental arithmetic and realised her last tub of supplement had lasted about three weeks too long, i.e. the daily servings were being measured too small...

      5. I love love love SmartPak and take advantage of the $7.95 shipping. Thay never have screwed up an order either, which is more than I can say for anyone else except Schneider's.

      6. Plus, you can almost always get free shipping from smartpak and you can order other things to ship with your order that has free shipping.

        This has to be the worst thing that has happened to my horse budget in ages. ;-) Good for cheap supplements, but I'm always getting other stuff.

      7. Agree with SprinklerBandit. Type Smartpak coupon in Google and the first link is a fantastic resource for getting coupon codes for free shipping (and sometimes more). I have been on Smartpaks for 2 years and have never paid a single shipping charge. Do love the Smartpaks

      8. Thanks for the analysis. Not at all what one might expect.

      9. In addition to the free shipping that SprinklerBandit brought up, and the over all price you showed, there are several other reasons I love my SmartPaks. My picky Tb mare is on 10,000mg of MSM/day and she HATES the powder. Pellets? Yes please! My chunky Fresian cross is on their SmartDgest and they are coming out with pastes. Going to a show and concerned that he's going to get an upset tummy? Nope, because in addition to his SmartPak, he will also get dosed with their Digestive paste. Boo-yeah! :)

      10. Cool. I would be inclined to assume the same thing; that they were more expensive. Why? Because usually when something is super convenient, it costs you a small fortune :o)

      11. I have found that for some things, it is cheaper to do the Smartpak. However, since my boys are on the same supps day in and day out, it's cheaper for me to buy the larger volume (so instead of a thirty day supply, I'll buy the 60 or 90, since they are both on the same supps for the most part) and therefore it's cheaper then the Smartpaks.

        Plus, unfortunately SP doesn't carry the plain MagOx (from Horsetech) or Flex Force HA (which I can only buy from Valley Vet). So, I'd still be stuck doing individual containers.

        My "time" is very important to me, but I can whip up a month supply of supps in about 10 minutes, for both horses. It works for now.


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