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Where Does the Natural Category Go From Here?

Industry Roundtable: Ten pet industry professionals share their insights regarding trends in natural pet food ingredients, how to answer the tough questions of savvy customers, how the natural treats and food categories can grow, and more.


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Manufacturer Participants

Oliver Amice, president of Whitebridge Pet Brands in St. Louis
Tim Fabits, vice president of sales at Redbarn Pet Products in Long Beach, Calif.
Sara Morgan, CEO and founder of Frenchie’s Kitchen in Corpus Christi, Texas
Chanda Leary-Coutu, senior marketing communications manager of WellPet in Tewksbury, Mass.
Adrian Pettyan, CEO and co-founder of Caru Pet Food in Vero Beach, Fla.
Lucy Postins, owner of The Honest Kitchen in San Diego
Bette Schubert, co-founder and senior vice president of sales, new product development and education for Bravo Pet Foods in Manchester, Conn.

 

Natural Pet News: How do natural foods and treats promote pet health on the inside and outside? 

Adrian Pettyan: Foods and treats made with less processed ingredients are inherently better for the diets of people and the pets they love. These products are closer to their natural state, meaning their essential nutrients are more bioavailable and, therefore, readily absorbed and put to better use.

Sara Morgan: We have all heard the phrase “You are what you eat,” right? This phrase is also true for our four-legged family members. Frenchie’s Kitchen dog food is based on a whole foods diet. Therefore, all of the nutrition and vitamins come from the food itself. So the better the ingredients, the better the health of the dog—a pretty simple rule.

Lucy Postins: There is a direct link between nutrition and many of the most common ailments that cause pets to be taken to the vet. Food can be a culprit, but it also can be the medicine. We would say that minimally processed whole foods promote health, as “natural” is a somewhat ambiguous term that is often misused in the pet food industry.

Tim Fabits: Basically, the philosophy of “good in, good out” takes on a level with pets that is unprecedented. As the pet parent becomes much more educated and familiar with the benefits of healthful, natural food as it affects the human body, the pet parent has identified that the same strategy also applies to feeding and treating their beloved companions. Many have found that certain high-quality ingredients in foods and treats have a positive effect on the overall well-being of their four-legged friends. 

Bette Schubert: The old adage “You are what you eat” certainly comes into play here. We’ve always believed that quality, whole foods and treats are in the best interest of our companion animals for health, sound nutrition and overall longevity. In recent years, we’ve seen significant empirical and anecdotal evidence proving that whole foods are the more healthful overall choice—not just for humans, but also for our canine and feline friends. The growing shift toward these natural foods, much of which is based on firsthand experience and word-of-mouth, is a testament to the power of minimally processed, natural foods and treats made from quality ingredients.

Chanda Leary-Coutu: Foods that are made with wholesome, natural and consciously sourced ingredients give pets the nutrients they need to nourish [their] souls, sustain their lives and protect their bodies. Balanced nutrition through quality ingredients like protein-rich meats and whole fruits and vegetables is the key to a long, happy life for pets and their parents alike.

Oliver Amice: It’s common sense that balanced meals made with fresh ingredients are healthier for humans than fast food. The same logic applies for pets. Appropriate food for pets starts by taking into consideration their physiology. For instance, being obligate carnivores and having been domesticated relatively recently, cats need a high level of animal proteins and a low carbohydrate level. The quality of the ingredients used in a recipe is of the upmost importance. Natural and wholesome, quality ingredients mean that they have not been overly processed and therefore have retained their nutrition potential. Finally, the way the products are made is critical. A gentle manufacturing process, such as baking, will preserve the integrity of the natural ingredients.

NPN: How can retailers best advocate for a pet food or treat labeled “natural” in the face of educated, informed consumers?

AP: That’s a difficult question because “natural” is only the first of several criteria caring pet parents have in mind when comparing premium foods or treats. To better cater to enlightened consumers’ cares and concerns, we’ve noticed retailers recommending products with qualities like made in the USA, 100 percent grain and gluten free, and prepared in small batches. GMO-free products are another emerging category trend among savvy retailers and shoppers.

SM: The word “natural” is overused as a marketing tool in the pet food industry. Presently, Association of American Feed Control Officials’ definition of “natural” is: “a feed or feed ingredient derived solely from plant, animal or mined sources, either in its unprocessed state or having been subject to physical processing, heat processing, rendering, purification, extraction, hydrolysis, enzymolysis or fermentation, but not having been produced by or subject to a chemically synthetic process and not containing any additives or processing aids that are chemically synthetic except in amounts as might occur in good manufacturing practices.”

Does this really sound natural? The more educated the retailer is about ingredients and what “natural” really means, the better advocate they can be for the customer. The industry has changed so much over the last several years that it has required a new education of what is truly healthful for dogs.

The consumer is much more educated now and asks more questions that are valuable and needed. A good retailer can answer them and be proactive by being educated.

LP: Consumers rely on independent pet specialty retailers to be “gatekeepers” and thoroughly vet the products they carry. The most successful retailers don’t simply rely on products being labeled as natural, but rather they will take the time to understand the companies that are producing the products they carry, ask the tough questions about sourcing, production and so on, and hopefully try the products on their own pets, so they can witness the health effects firsthand and be true spokespeople for the brands they carry.

TF: This simply comes down to having a keen understanding of what a particular pet parent’s issues are with their animal. Using that knowledge to address potential issues shows that the retailer is concerned and genuinely interested in finding solution-based foods for those specific needs. This is a level of service and care that today’s informed pet parent is seeking. 

BS: The term “natural” is loaded, because it can be interpreted in many different ways. Just because a product is labeled healthful or all natural does not necessarily mean that the contents actually are. I would say the best way for retailers to advocate for natural products and treats is to be educated themselves and to pass that knowledge onto their sales team. One of the strongest skills retailers should possess is the ability to read and break down a product label for the customer. They should be able to interpret the product ingredients and how each benefits the companion animal, paying special attention to those code words, which call out those ingredients that might be billed as good but actually are not.

CLC: Much like buying our own food and reading labels to study the ingredients, pet parents are reading what goes into the food their pets eat. We are seeing new technology make waves in the pet food industry where pet parents can now scan labels to become better informed on what exactly is going into each bowl for our pets.

Labels, for pet parents, are often some of the best sources of education for retailers to educate pet owners to better understand what they are feeding their pets. It is important for retailers to educate their employees on how to communicate [the] specifics of pet food ingredients.

OA: Show the consumer the ingredients panel! Less ingredients and recognizable ingredients are often better. Is a treat made with sugar (maltodextrose), or does it or include colorants? Does a food include meat byproducts, inexpensive grains or fillers? Also show the consumer the guaranteed analysis. What is the protein percentage for instance? Are proteins coming from plants such as processed and inexpensive corn gluten, pea proteins or potatoes proteins or the preferred animal proteins, which are more aligned with pets’ needs from an amino acid perspective? Also very important is the calorie content of a food or treat. Regardless of the quality of a diet, it is important to only provide the necessary amount of calories, as overfeeding the best diets also will lead to weight gain.

 

NPN: What ingredients do your food or treats feature that provide the most healthful benefits to pets?

AP: Caru recipes are “just like homemade.” We focus on carefully choosing our products’ ingredients and treating each with integrity to maintain its most healthful qualities to benefit the pet’s diet and promote a healthful lifestyle overall.

For example, our natural stews are the only ready-to-serve pet food in which every ingredient has been verified human grade by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and are made in a human-grade facility. Because they’re packed in convenient Tetra Pak cartons, they’re also 100 percent preservative free. Our decision to use Tetra Pak instead of cans to package our stews allowed us to further ensure the quality of our ingredients and the final product.

SM: All of the ingredients in Frenchie’s Kitchen products are human grade, including the vitamins. They are sourced in the USA and manufactured in a U.S. Department of Agriculture-inspected human food facility with 100 percent human-grade ingredients.

The vitamins in our products come from the food itself. Carrots are an excellent source of vitamins A and C, calcium, potassium, lutein and fiber. Green beans are a great source of dietary fiber that also contain more than 10 necessary minerals needed for proper bone health, blood vessel stability and nerve function. Kale contains the highest level of antioxidants of any vegetable. Kelp can increase the absorption of nutrients as well as promote healthy coat and skin. All of our ingredients have a purpose, and we do not add unnecessary fillers or flavorings. We don’t even add salt.

LP: It’s not just about ingredients, but the way the ingredients are processed. We’ve found that pets thrive when fed a whole-food, minimally processed iet. Categories like dehydrated, raw and freeze dried provide food closer to their natural state. Foods like kibble are extremely processed, so while an ingredient like blueberries might be bursting with antioxidants and nutrients in the raw form, those are depleted in processing.

TF: While our limited-ingredient, simple protein source has resonated strongly, we find that additional, functional ingredients such as dandelion greens, green-lipped mussels, quinoa and chicory are uniquely instrumental in addressing common maladies such as food allergies, digestive concerns, joint and mobility, and a host of additional issues that can be resolved with a specific dietary adjustment. 

BS: Our single-source protein, limited-ingredient formulas all serve a specific nutritional purpose. Speaking to our raw foods, our muscle meats provide energy, the organs are nutrient rich, and the bones are great for dental health and as a source of calcium. In some cases, we add vegetables for added nutrients. Our fresh-frozen raw foods are simple by design and provide a great foundation for creating a custom food based on the specific nutritional needs of the companion animal. Our treats are made from 100 percent muscle meats and/or organs, making them highly nutritious and delicious.

CLC: As we see more human food trends grow (i.e., paleo, superfoods, grain free), these same trends are making their way into our pets’ food. Pet parents are looking for such ingredients as whole-prey proteins, grain-free options and superfoods, like blueberries and sweet potatoes. These higher-quality ingredients lead to better overall nutrition and health for our pets while adding exciting flavors to their everyday food.

Our new Wellness Complete Health Grain-Free recipes give dogs balanced nutrition without grains and fillers in three delicious flavors. Our new line of dog and cat food and treats, Wellness TruFood, is baked in small batches with chicken, beets, coconut oil, kale, pumpkin and live active yogurt cultures—whole foods such as whole-prey protein, raw produce and antioxidant-loaded superfoods. Wellness Natural Hairball Control, which features unique ingredients to help move hair and already-formed hairballs through cats’ digestive tracts faster, contains vitamins and minerals to support skin and coat health in order to reduce stray hair ingestion, a blend of natural fiber to move hairballs through the digestive tract, and antioxidant-loaded cranberries and L-carnitine, with no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives.

OA: Our Tiki line is grain free, and we only use human-grade sliced or shredded meats and seafood. In our Cloud Star Dynamo line, we use a variety of functional ingredients to complement the diets the pet parent feeds her pet. Our Dynamo Hip and Joint treats include a high level of glucosamine and chondroitin as well as green-lipped mussels.

NPN: What can be considered new or upcoming in the natural pet food or treat category? How much more can it expand?

AP: We’re seeing an increasing trend toward products made with novel proteins, especially treats. While this is partly driven by a desire to add more variety to their pet’s diet, many owners are seeking solutions for food allergies and digestive sensitivities.

In response, we recently added three new items to our Soft ‘n Tasty Treats line: Alligator, Rabbit and Wild Boar. We’re also extending our natural stews to include Lamb With Lentils and Chicken and Duck With Lentils recipes (neither stew contains white potatoes).

SM: We will see more and more companies leaning toward the humanization of pet food. Too many animals have paid the price for the ingredient cutbacks. The focus will be on better ingredients and products made and sourced in the USA.

LP: We’re continuing to see a strong interest in simpler ingredients panels; products with fewer ingredients are especially appealing to customers with more sensitive pets. Limited-ingredient foods and treats will continue to be a trend, as will more novel ingredients, especially proteins.

BS: There must be room for innovation and improvement in order to continue providing the best possible products. Safety and convenience are going to be two key areas where we see the greatest changes going forward. If you look across our category, all of the manufacturers pretty much are using the same processes to create products, whether they be fresh-frozen raw or freeze dried, and each has some proprietary methods.

The areas where we are seeing the greatest distinction are in how the food is packaged and in the formats being used. In terms of raw, we’re seeing a big shift toward more shelf-stable products like freeze dried, so we still have some room to grow. Consumer demand for these products continues to grow, and we have more pet parents moving into the category, so manufacturers are going to answer the call, and as long as that continues to happen, we’re going to have room for expansion.

OA: Extruded kibbles and canned foods in the form of pate or gravy have become the norm for pet food in the last 50 years. Now that pets have become such an important part of the family, is it the way we want to feed them moving forward? Given the growth of the so-called alternative pet food category, which we believe includes fresh, raw, dehydrated, baked and whole foods, it’s obvious that more and more consumers want to feed food that is less processed and more natural and looks like real food to their pets. It is still a small segment overall, but the grain-free segment was small, too, a few years ago.

NPN: Will food and treats labeled “natural” triumph with customers in sales and popularity over those labeled “organic,” “high protein,” “limited ingredient” or “gluten free”?

AP: The short answer is no. Natural is just the first step in a chain of decisions pet owners make when they are considering purchasing a different brand. While it is important to reassure them that a product is sourced or prepared in a natural way, other decision drivers are beginning to carry more weight. For example, Caru stews are the only dog food cooked using an exclusive low-temperature, small-batch process that delivers all the taste, aroma and texture of a homemade meal. The key drivers in this statement are “small batch” and “homemade,” which have worked wonders in helping us successfully reach and build our customer base.

SM: Consumers need to educate themselves on reading labels and what the ingredients really mean. There always will be the customer looking for organic or gluten-free food due to health issues, but companies need to be more honest with natural ingredients. The consumer also needs to understand that even though the label might read “limited ingredients,” they need to make sure the ingredients in the food are healthful for the animal. My general rule of thumb is “If you can’t pronounce it, don’t feed it.” We do not include any ingredients in our products that we wouldn’t eat ourselves.

LP: Customers are so educated nowadays that the term “natural’” is actually much less meaningful. People are quite rightly demanding specifics, and as such, they’re going to be more focused on the product attributes that address their needs, whether it’s limited ingredient, gluten free, non-GMO or certified organic, to name a few.

Many of the buzzwords are checkmarks for customers: natural, no fillers, no ingredients from China. Once the bases are covered, they look for food-specific attributes, typically because of food allergies their pets have. So limited ingredient, grain free and low fat might address nutritional needs.

BS: When it comes right down to it, all of these descriptors are components of or are closely related to the natural movement. Each is a value-added claim that appeals to a certain segment of the market, and it is going to be interesting to see how manufacturers work to appeal to these consumers. At the end of the day, all of these products are good choices for our companion animals, so it’s a win for pets and for the category.

CLC: The natural pet food and treats category continues to grow rapidly according to our market and consumer research. Pet food labeling continues to be an important source of education for pet parents—this includes conscious ingredient sourcing and an ingredient list that is simple, straightforward and easy to understand. The natural category is an umbrella term, and it is vital for retailers and their employees to have the knowledge to explain the differences between limited-ingredient and grain-free diets, both of which can be natural.

OA: Different consumers have different needs but also different budgets. We think it’s important for specialty retailers to offer choice to their customers in order to maintain a successful business. 

 

NPN: How can the category grow?

AP: My wife Pamela and I originally went into business because we discovered how homemade, grain-free food without artificial ingredients improved the health of our beloved dog named Karu. As long as people keep entering the pet industry with a passion to create better, more healthful products, this category will continue to thrive.

SM: Frenchie’s Kitchen has been using human-grade ingredients since day one. We believe in only feeding dogs something we would eat ourselves. We continue to add new products such as our Tasty Toppers for Dogs, human-grade, frozen stew toppers for kibble to provide natural nutrition for all size dogs. We realize the pet food consumer is demanding higher-quality products, and it is up to us to meet that need.

LP: Consumers are becoming more and more aware of the meanings of specific terms in the natural pet foods category, so the growth trajectory will continue. As people better understand the links between GMOs, gluten, pesticides on produce, antibiotics in meats and so on, they will continue to demand more from the pet food companies with whom they spend their money. It’s up to our industry to continue to raise the bar, to exceed customers’ expectations and, in so doing, help to make a more positive impact on pet health through the products we make.

TF: The expansion and growth of the category will continue to drive from the development of new product and innovation in the all-natural, healthy pet segment. The addition of key functional ingredients as well as unique, novel proteins will continue to pique the interest of today’s discriminating pet parent. 

BS: I most certainly believe the category will continue to grow and expand so long as the price-value equation stays balanced. If the past few years are any indication, we’ve seen that pet parents are seeking better foods and are willing to pay a slight premium for them. There is a segment of the population that considers pets members of family, and they’re going to purchase the best possible foods for them—even if at a slightly higher cost.

However, there always is going to be that remaining segment of the population that considers our companion animals to be just the family dog or cat, as well as those consumers without the resources to pay for better foods. Those segments likely will always seek a lower-cost option. For retailers, the key is to know their clientele and decide which segments of the consumer base they want to appeal to, and then stock products that best match those needs. So far, it seems that new pet parents are subscribing to the former line of thinking, and if this continues, we’re going to see the category continue to grow steadily.

CLC: We’re starting to see natural pet food expand into new categories of food and treat options. Traditionally, pet parents typically feed dry or wet food, but recently, there has been an increased interest in alternative options such as pet food toppers, slow-baked dry food and raw pet food. We see the natural pet food industry growing and changing much like human food trends are—including an increased demand for quality, natural ingredients that are consciously sourced.

OA: Education remains the primary driver. Again, more and more consumers want to provide the very best for their pets within their budget. So carrying natural foods and treats at different price point and being able to articulate what that higher price point gets you in terms of benefits to pets is critical to grow the category.

 

Retailer Participants

Lorin Grow, owner of Furry Face in Redlands, Calif.
Andrea Margelis of Pets Naturally in Traverse City, Mich.
Heidi Neal, owner of Loyal Biscuit, which has stores in Maine

 

NPN: What is most important to your customers when they’re selecting a natural diet for their pets? What is the No. 1 question they ask?

Heidi Neal: It’s a pretty even split between two subjects. They either are asking about grain-free foods (they are looking for foods with no grain at all), or they ask where it is made. They don’t want ingredients coming from China or other questionable locations. 

Lorin Grow: Most people don’t have an accurate understanding of “natural.” In their heads, it’s an all-encompassing, abstract theory of safe, nonsynthetic, fresh, real and nutritious. They don’t understand the loopholes involved in that word “natural” or that it’s often not enough, not what they expect or not what they really want when the actual ingredients and manufacturing is explained to them.

Many “natural” ingredients aren’t beneficial or what should necessarily be added to any food. Carrageenan is natural, but most people don’t know what it is, or they would avoid it. What’s pictured on the front of the bag or can through marketing is often misleading. 

The top question they ask is if it contains anything from China or if it’s USA made.

Andrea Margelis: The most important thing for customers that are new to the natural food diet is that they don’t contain corn, wheat or soy. If they already use a natural approach to their life and want to extend it to their pets, they ask for grain free and no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. The No. 1 question is where it is made and where does the protein come from.

 

NPN: What pet food(s) come closest to the true definition of what you believe natural should be?

HN: Raw is by far the closest to the definition of what natural pet food should be.

LG: Natural to the animal should be that which most closely resembles what that animal would naturally eat. In my opinion, for dogs and cats, this means raw foods. But I also would be good with any foods in which you can actually see and recognize the ingredients in the product. Not what they are as listed in the ingredient panel, but actually see and recognize as the ingredients in the product as fed. If not raw or whole foods, then freeze-dried/dehydrated foods would be the next best. 

AM: Pet foods that come closest to the true definition of natural are raw frozen, freeze-dried and dehydrated meals. Most of those types of meals use human-grade non-GMO ingredients and are minimally processed compared to dry food. These diets are considered a whole food diet.

 

NPN: Everyone says pet owners are savvier and more educated than ever before, thanks to the Internet. What is a recurring theme from customers insofar as the questions they ask? Is the information they’re getting online correct? What’s the Internet source that customers cite most often?

HN: Grains—all about the grains. The Internet has given all grains a bad rap. While there are some grains that we certainly won’t carry in our stores, I don’t feel that all are bad. That is what customers are finding most online right now and feel that is what they have to have instead of looking at the individual needs of the pet.

While no specific sites have been mentioned, many people also come in saying, “I’ve been reading about Blue online, that looks like a great food!” Blue Buffalo obviously appears to be popping up for many people when doing their online research. 

LG: The problem with the Internet is discerning what is true and accurate and what isn’t. It’s easy to read a million opinions, theories, explanations, etc., from just as many “experts.” Because it’s often confusing and convoluted, the reader tends toward that which they already believe, which might not be the best option or tell them what’s most important.

The most oft-quoted source is dogfoodadvisor.com, but, like many such sites, it uses a set of parameters chosen by the site owner, which is just one man’s opinion. Again, there are other similar sites, but dogfoodadvisor.com has been so frequently referred to as to become almost the bible of pet food parameters for what’s “good” and what’s “bad.” In lieu of knowing where to turn and without any other knowledge of how to judge a pet food objectively, it’s at least a place to start for many people.

AM: Due to the amount of information from the Internet, consumers ask where the food is made and is it grain free.

The No. 1 Internet source usually is different brands’ websites and dogfoodadvisor.com. The information online isn’t always correct, especially if they are citing a vendor’s website, because it is biased, and they will spin the perception of their food how they want. Dogfoodadvisor.com does a good job with articles and rating the foods, though every pet is different, and not all foods will provide the pet its optimal life.

 

NPN: Will foods labeled “natural” triumph with customers in sales and popularity over those labeled “organic,” “high protein,” “limited ingredient” or “gluten free”?

HN: Natural will triumph over high protein, limited ingredient or gluten free. However, I think if more foods were labeled as organic, that would give natural a run for its money, even though it might still have a questionable ingredient panel. 

LG: It’s all marketing, isn’t it? Because I believe that the term “natural” isn’t often accurate nor tells the true story, I like organic. But the reality is that the demand for organic ingredients is huge in the for-human-consumption marketplace and therefore commands higher revenues. That doesn’t leave enough organic ingredients to continuously fulfill product lines in the for-pet-consumption marketplace and certainly prices it out of any wide consideration for many manufacturers.

“High protein” is another abstract and misleading buzz term. Many plant-based ingredients, like chickpeas and lentils, register as protein in the guaranteed analysis. Many pet foods use similar plant-based ingredients to elevate their protein levels, while the consumer automatically assumes its percentages are all meat related. The cost often contributes to that mistaken belief as well. Since it’s not a requirement to delineate between meat proteins and plant proteins on packaging, how is the consumer to know for certain what they are getting or for which they are paying? And most rarely think to ask. 

I like limited ingredient diets for numerous reasons, not the least of which is that they tend to perform well (again, depending upon what those limited ingredients actually are). Additionally, there are fewer fillers, less opportunity for ingredient splitting and less chance for ingredient contamination.

Gluten free was hot for a minute, but almost no one asks anymore.

AM: Foods that are labeled “natural” will triumph over foods that are labeled “organic,” “high protein,” “limited ingredient” or “gluten free” in general. Though consumers are becoming savvier and might know that a food that is labeled “natural” might not be the best compared to an “organic” food, price will always be a consideration. Also, the Internet has been a valuable asset for information, but there is a lot of misinformation, which will continue to confuse people and sway their decisions. I do, however, believe that foods that are labeled “natural” will start to decrease in certain cities and parts of the country.

Pets Naturally consumers have shown that they want to go beyond the “natural” label and provide their pets with foods that are optimal and not just tolerated. We have seen an increase in the past year in our raw-frozen, freeze-dried and dehydrated foods. A growing number of our consumers are asking if foods are GMO free, if the protein sources come from free-range animals and even what those animals eat.

 

NPN: What natural pet foods are selling best for you right now? What are your favorite natural pet foods?

HN: We do really well with Orijen and Acana, Fromm, Canidae and Earthborn Grain-Free in all of our stores. My favorites are Orijen, Rad Cat and Stella & Chewy’s at the moment, but we are looking heavily at Vital Essentials and Northwest Naturals now that they are available in our area. 

LG: The raw lines do great in my store as do the freeze drieds, dehydrateds and whole cooked foods. Our favorites (and our customers’) are Raw Bistro, Answers, SmallBatch, Primal, Northwest Naturals, Vital Essentials, Rad Cat, The Honest Kitchen, ZiwiPeak and Frenchie’s Kitchen.

AM: The Honest Kitchen dehydrated pet food is our best-seller in the minimally processed category. We have seen a definite increase in our Primal sales. Our best-selling dry foods are Dr. Gary’s Best Breed, Fromm and Acana. My favorite foods are The Honest Kitchen and Grandma Lucy’s, because they are considered a whole-food diet that gives pets the benefits of a raw diet without the work.

 

NPN: How can the category grow?

HN: There is still a lot of room for growth. Just walk into any grocery store or supercenter and you will see carts filled with pet foods I don’t consider natural or healthful. It is a matter of education and teaching people that there really is a difference in foods and how feeding them can benefit your pet. I think people still feel that natural has to be expensive, and it doesn’t. There are healthful, natural options that can help your pet thrive that will cost less than the foods many are currently feeding that don’t fall into the natural/healthful category.

LG: It would be beneficial if the smaller companies stopped selling out to the giant kibble corporations. The field gets smaller and the options fewer as this continues to happen. I get it. The small companies see a big check after so many years of sacrifice and hard work, and it’s too good to pass up. I’d take it too. But there needs to be more up-and-coming companies to take their place in the market. 

 

This article originally appeared in the April 2016 issue of Pet Product News' special supplement, Natural Pet News.

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