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Palate Pleasers

Stews and pâtés serve not only as a way to offer dogs another source of hydration, but also as an appetizing meal.


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As pet owners look to cater to their dogs’ specific nutritional needs and varied palates, wet recipes such as stews and pâtés offer a convenient way to customize a dog’s bowl with new flavors and textures while adding hydrating moisture and quality nutrients that build upon a pet’s base diet, said Chanda Leary-Coutu, director of consumer experience for WellPet in Tewksbury, Mass.

“While a bowl of kibble may give dogs the balanced nutrition they need to stay healthy, wet recipes offer pet parents a unique opportunity to add in new proteins and other superfoods like fruits and vegetables,” Leary-Coutu said.

Typically, wet foods are more appetizing and digestible than dry foods, said Jeff Toy, vice president of sales for Redbarn Pet Products in Long Beach, Calif. 

Pet owners with sick or older dogs, or those living in dry climates, should consider serving foods with a higher moisture percentage, Toy said. Further, stews and pâtés are also a good choice for senior dogs and those experiencing problems with chewing hard kibble, he added.

Unlike kibble, these foods provide vital hydration that might help to prevent heat stroke in pets in hot climates, said Adrian Pettyan, CEO and co-founder of Caru Pet Food Co. in Vero Beach, Fla.

Toy agreed. “Wet and semimoist foods are an excellent source of hydration for pets not drinking enough water,” he said. 

Many pet owners consider these products to be a more flavorful way to feed their dogs while meeting pets’ health needs, Pettyan said. 

“Others serve them as a highly palatable topper for dry kibble or to add extra nutrition to their pet’s diet,” he added.

As protein rotation has gained in popularity, demand for stews and pâtés has grown, said Kathy Ahearn, co-owner of Four Your Paws Only in North Conway, N.H.

“Years ago, it was ‘just stick to one brand and one flavor,’ but now protein rotation is being recommended to offer more variety and to avoid development of allergies,” Ahearn said. “I think pet owners are very open to trying something new, particularly if the food is similar in look and texture to human food.”

New Products

Flavors for Foodies

Caru Pet Food Co. recently added two flavors to its Daily Dish stew line: Turkey, and Turkey with Wild Salmon, said Adrian Pettyan, CEO and co-founder of the Vero Beach, Fla.-based company.

“Like all Caru stews, these grain-free recipes are prepared with 100 percent human-grade, non-GMO ingredients in a human food facility in the United States,” Pettyan said. “They are also packed in Tetra Pak cartons to protect freshness and flavor without preservatives of any kind.”  

For 2018, WellPet has expanded its wet recipes for dogs to include Wellness Core Mini Meals, created specifically for small breeds. 

“The pouches are available in pâtés, shreds and chunks in a variety of grain-free flavors for a convenient way to serve up a customized meal,” said Chanda Leary-Coutu, director of consumer experience at WellPet in Tewksbury, Mass.

Customer Education

Face-to-Face Nutrition

As with most pet food, customer education is essential to selling stews and pâtés. And pet specialty retailers are in the best position to do just that, according to industry insiders. 

“Brick-and-mortar retailers have the unique opportunity to engage in face-to-face conversations with customers about their pet’s nutritional wants and needs and are able to provide personalized recommendations based on these one-on-one encounters,” said Chanda Leary-Coutu, director of consumer experience for WellPet in Tewksbury, Mass.

Retailers can take advantage of this opportunity by learning more about the unique lifestyle and taste preferences of the individual pet, Leary-Coutu added.

“[Learning about individual pets] will allow retailers to make an informed recommendation and assist in setting up the pet, and the pet parent, for success at mealtime,” she said.

Questions about unique dietary needs—for example, what protein flavor a dog most prefers or if a dog enjoys chunky or minced meat—are also helpful in determining the proper recommendation, said Jeff Toy, vice president of sales for Redbarn Pet Products in Long Beach, Calif.

“The deciding factor may come down to preference or dietary needs or restrictions,” he said. 

At The Yuppy Puppy, which has two locations in Spokane, Wash., owner Aquila Brown emphasizes the importance of consumer education when promoting these foods. 

“We do a ton of education,” she said. “We always recommend increasing the moisture content of any diet. We are big proponents of adding water or some form of moisture to a pet’s dry food.” 

Besides in-store education, videos and newsletters also serve to raise shopper awareness at The Yuppy Puppy. 

“For example, we use slogans such as ‘Don’t forget, pets need water this time of year, too,’ or ‘Add canned food to make a gravy,’” Brown said.  

Since pâtés are smoother in texture than stews, Adrian Pettyan, CEO and co-founder of Caru Pet Food Co. in Vero Beach, Fla., recommended asking a customer if their pet seems to be especially averse to chewing or is a picky eater. 

Product Development

What Manufacturers Consider

When developing a new pâté or stew recipe, the first consideration for WellPet is ingredient quality, from the protein that should make up the bulk of the meal to the added fruits and vegetables that provide balanced nutrition, said Chanda Leary-Coutu, director of consumer experience at the Tewksbury, Mass.-based company. 

“Each ingredient offers something different, but together they offer the right levels of vitamins and minerals,” Leary-Coutu said. “Using carefully sourced ingredients is always a top priority.”

Another key factor is taste, she added. 

“We want dogs to be excited about the food that’s in their bowl, and a variety of protein sources, textures and forms all serve to create that emotion,” Leary-Coutu said. “We want to make sure that our wet recipes for dogs pass both of these tests with flying colors.”

Formulating a new product can be a balancing act between nutrition and palatability, said Adrian Pettyan, CEO and co-founder of Caru Pet Food Co. in Vero Beach, Fla. 

“We know our products won’t be successful if pets aren’t wowed by the texture and taste,” he said. 

Additionally, value is not forgotten when developing a new food product, he said.

“We do our best to offer super-premium, human-grade diets at a reasonable price,” Pettyan said.

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