Q4 FOCUS: Dog Food
What’s trending in dog food this quarter
Pet owners continue to be the driving force behind trends in dog food, as they have come to recognize the benefit of feeding better foods made from wholesome ingredients.
“People are more concerned with what they’re feeding their pets and will spend more time looking at labels and really checking out the ingredients,” said Jeffrey Allen Manley, co-owner of TailsSpin Pet Food & Accessories, which has stores in Georgia. “We get a lot of questions about different types of food, and it shows that people aren’t just looking for the cheapest answer; they want the most beneficial answer.”
Bette Schubert, senior vice president of sales, new product development and education for Bravo Pet Foods in Manchester, Conn., noted that the dog food category has seen quite a transformation over the past decade in terms of explosive growth and more mainstream acceptance.
“Those interesting times continue as we see traditional pet food brands looking back and mirroring the basic tenants on which the raw food industry was founded,” she said. “So many of these ‘old line’ manufacturers are now providing more [healthful and] natural product formulations made with whole foods and limited ingredients.”
Retailers are looking for solution-based, cleaner foods, and for brands that are not sold for discounts online, said Lonnie Schwimmer, president of Nootie, maker of Mauri brand pet food in Delray Beach, Fla.
“People go to independent pet stores for help with their pets,” Schwimmer said. “We believe that these same customers should shop with the stores that educated them. For store owners, we wanted to create a brand that helped pets with allergies and people would come back to their store to purchase it. We do this by using exotic single-animal proteins like kangaroo, goat and unagi from New Zealand.”
A customer database and newsletter can be highly effective at reaching customers who have niche needs, said Carmen Velasquez, marketing director for The Honest Kitchen in San Diego.
“E-blasts can be great ways to drive traffic to stores, where staff can walk [customers] through the newest, most innovative products they carry and provide a food recommendation for their pet,” she said.
Schwimmer said the best way to market dog food is through education.
“Explaining to your customers that you’re better off spending a little more on a quality food and keeping your pet healthy can go a long way,” Schwimmer said. “If not, then they’re going to spend a lot more money at the vet.”
Kent Pet Group offers By Nature Pet Foods, a premium product built on the idea that all ingredients aren’t equal and that a more advanced diet can ensure pets have the ingredients they need to remain active and healthy. The formulas provide a new level of nutrition that helps protect the pets we love and the moments that make life special. bynaturepetfoods.com
PETCUREAN PET NUTRITION offers Go! Sensitivity + Shine Venison Recipe for dogs, an all-life-stage diet that features premium-quality venison as the single meat-protein source. It is grain free, gluten free and potato free. The food is a complete, nutrient-packed diet with no growth hormones, byproducts or artificial preservatives. petcurean.com
Frenchie’s Kitchen’s Whitefish and Veggies Grain Free Entrée, which also is gluten free, contains 100 percent USDA white fish, potatoes, green beans, carrots, broccoli, peas, celery, spinach, kale, eggs, eggshell calcium, organic kelp powder and organic flaxseed meal. All vitamins and minerals in the product come from the food itself, with no additives. It contains no meat meals, corn, preservatives, processed grains, animal and poultry fat or sweeteners. frenchieskitchen.com
Natural Balance Pet Foods offers L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Buffalo & Sweet Potato Canned Dog Formula. The grain-free food has a limited number of protein and carbohydrate sources. It contains buffalo combined with other high-quality ingredients that have been carefully selected to provide dogs the peak nutrition they need to have a healthy, balanced lifestyle, the company reports. naturalbalanceinc.com
Bacterfield’s ProBiotic Live is a functional superpremium dog food containing prebiotics and probiotic bacteria for support of the function of the intestinal system, the company states. The food only contains natural, high-quality ingredients—no artificial colors, preservatives or flavors. It has a high and balanced level of omega-3 and -6 fatty acids. Formulas include Puppy, Adult Salmon, Adult Lamb, Adult Chicken and Senior. bacterfield.com
This article originally appeared in the October 2015 issue of Pet Product News.