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Pet Product News Editorial Blog:

Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2009

Going Natural

By Sherri Collins

Editor, Pet Product News International


If this were the fashion world, natural would be the new black. Everywhere you look, it seems as though someone is coming out with a new product or promoting an existing one as “all natural.” As an eco-conscious vegetarian, I’ve been dialed into the natural-food, natural-living movement for a long time, so the ever-growing abundance of natural products for humans is, for me (pardon the pun), a natural. Nor is it surprising that the natural trend is gaining ground in the pet world since more and more people consider their animals to be family members—and are thus treating them as such.

If there are any left who doubt the increasing upsurge in pets “going natural,” a quick survey of the new products presented at the recent H.H. Backer Christmas Trade Show in Rosemont, Ill., should completely erase any and all reservations. While perusing the Product Showcase, I wrote down any natural product that I hadn’t seen at either Global or SuperZoo this year and ended up with a list of 50 items. Add to that the dozen or so products on display that I was already aware of, plus all the existing natural pet products already on the market and the total is an impressive one, indeed.

The show’s natural product range ran the gamut from apparel to food to grooming to supplements to toys with food and treats for dogs and cats dominating the category. I counted nearly two dozen new natural dog treats and more than half that for cats just within the showcase section—many more were on exhibit on the show floor. 

Natural foods and treats are a given for small mammals and, accordingly, there was a healthy sampling of products in the showcase, such as CareFresh’s line of small-mammal diets, Vita-Kraft’s treats and FM Brown’s edible tunnels. Ditto for bird diets. Roudybush offered up new treats for senior birds and Fruitables presented its new line of bird treats.

I also noted a new natural aquatic product: Microbe-Lift by Ecological Labs introduced Herbtana, a new line of 100-percent natural parasite expellers for reef and freshwater tanks.

Among the numerous natural categories represented in the new product section was flea and tick control, with Natural Chemistry and Best Shot providing new lines/items to meet the growing demand. Best Shot also had new natural grooming products, as did Juno’s Garden, Cain & Able, Pet Naturals of Vermont, Bell Rock Growers and PetKind Pet Products.

As expected, there was also a wealth of natural supplements and functional treats, including a few new players, such as Petsoothicals, as well as industry veterans—e.g., Vet’s Best and Tomlyn.

Even dog collars and toys got into the natural mix, with companies such as Wagging Green and Coastal Pet Products offering new items for the former category, and New York Dog and Harry Barker actively promoting its new products in the latter.

According to our State of the Industry report for 2009, retailers, on average, experienced a 44-percent increase in holistic/natural/organic item sales in 2008 over the previous year.

When you take into account the wealth of natural goods--new and existing--at industry shows, along with the increase in consumer awareness and desire for natural products, the natural market can only go in one direction: up. Naturally.

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