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Food Follows Human Trends

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Dog food is continuously evolving. There is always something new that is trending, and it can be a lot to keep up with.

Every brand of food has something different to offer the market, which is good because consumers are always looking for something unique, and tailored to their pet’s specific needs.

Many look for certain specifications such as, amount of protein, whether or not it’s grain free, the level of antioxidants or what type of food trial it has been though. Whatever the case, it’s important to keep on top of the trends to not only make sure customers are getting exactly what they want and need, but also so you can be knowledgeable about the latest products available.

In general, pet food trends tend to follow the same ones that human food trends take. One of the biggest right now is being more health conscious.

“As a society, we are becoming more health conscious; this is also reflected in what we are feeding our pets,” Brad Armistead, vice president of marketing for DOGSWELL, said. “Pet parents are trading up to natural and healthy food and treats for their pet family members.

“Additionally, grain-free food and treats are also gaining momentum as pet parents adopt diets for their pets that are more aligned with ones that they would naturally eat. We see this evolving into low glycemic diets for pets. According to the Glycemic Research Institute, not only do low glycemic diets align with the natural diets of cats and dogs, but avoiding high glycemic foods can also help control weight and reduce the risk of many diseases.”

DOGSWELL has come out with a line of food for dogs called LiveFree. It’s an ultra low glycemic food to align with a dog’s natural diet which prevents spikes in blood sugar levels, supports slower digestion and sustains a dog’s energy.

“A glycemic rating under 55 is considered low and LifeFree’s dry food recipes range from 9-11 while our canned food ranges from 3.5-3.6,” Armistead said. “We have put the glycemic index rating for each LiveFree product on every bag and can so that consumers can easily locate them.”

Holly Sher, the president of Evanger’s Dog and Cat Food Company, said consumers are recognizing that nutrition-packed superfoods recommended for their own diets are just as beneficial for their four-legged friends.

“Ingredients like spinach, kale and probiotics, rising in popularity at human farmers markets, are also trending in the pet food aisles,” Sher said. “Retailers are looking to offer their customers high-quality foods, as well as brands that feature easy to read package/label designs that immediately identify key nutritional benefits for the consumer.”

Evanger’s added USA farm-fresh spinach and kale to its Super Premium line of Canned Dog Foods.

“With high amounts of fiber, calcium, protein and Vitamins A, C and K, no other vegetable source can match these leafy-green wonders,” Sher said. “Spinach and kale have many antioxidant properties that guard against inflammatory diseases, cancer and some cardiovascular problems. Kale in particular is also helpful in detoxifying the liver, as kale juice has antibacterial properties.”

Giving Them Options

As manufacturers come out with these new products, it has become even more important to make sure their packaging explains clearly what the product is offering and hits on all the main points, but without it becoming overwhelming for the consumer.

“Consumers are often confused by the barrage of different brands and SKUs filling pet store shelves, each claiming to be better than the others for a variety of ‘marketing’ reasons, not based on good nutritional science,” Ron Jackson, assistant to the president of Hi-Tek Rations, said. “Our products cover a wide range of needs and provide consumers with value-oriented solutions to their nutritional quests as well as super premium foods formulated for consumers where budget is not an option.”

Hi-Tek has a new line of food, the Leonard Powell Signature Series Dog Foods.

“The new family of super premium foods includes three distinct groupings of product including Exotics, Classics and baked formulas,” Jackson said. “The Exotic line includes Open Prairie Formula With Bison, a Grain Free food in which bison is the first ingredient served in a mix that includes apples, carrots, tomato pomace, blueberries and pre- and probiotics and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids including DHA.” Bryan Nieman, the brand director of Fromm, said all Fromm Four-Star entrees are prepared in small batches ensuring consistent quality and superior taste.

Because of this, Neiman said the products have been very well received.

“Our customers are excited to have another unique recipe that’s not only highly palatable but addresses pets that may have certain dietary intolerances such as chicken, grains and potato,” Neiman said. “They’re also enamored with the bold pink Polynesian packaging that features a hibiscus flower pattern while maintaining our iconic Four-Star branded look.”

Looking toward the future, Fromm will continue to find creative ways for formulating new and interesting recipes for dogs and cats.

“We are able to meet the needs of customers, respond to trends within the pet industry and create a line that is complimentary, interchangeable and nutritionally complete for pets,” Neiman said. “We are always cooking up new recipes and are looking forward to announcing our newest additions in 2014.”

Launched in 2003, Fromm Four-Star Nutritonals was the first gourmet variety-driven pet food on the market.

“Our artisan recipes are not only unique but deliver variety and choice for both dogs and cats,” Nieman said. “Each interchangeable recipe uses the highest inclusions of meat, fruits and vegetables.”

Allergies

Marie Moody, president and founder of Stella & Chewy’s, said many people own dogs who have allergies. This helped lead to the  creation of their new flavors, of Phenomenally Pheasant, Rabbit and Venice.

“All of our exotics are single protein and the meat themselves are anti biotic free and hormone free,” Moody said. “It’s also highly palatable, dogs seem to love it. And in general people are really open to trying these new exotic flavors because they are looking for both variety but also we have a lot of people that have dogs that have allergies.

“These new exotic proteins are ‘hypo allergenic’  in the sense that they don’t seem to be exasperating allergies and they have been really helpful for dogs that can’t have chicken, or some are allergic to beef. With the Rabbit, Venicine and Pheasent, they are not flavored with proteins that are in some of the more conventional pet foods so they are less likely to cause pet allergies.”

Boosting Sales

Precise Pet Products Executive Vice President Kirk Young said that independent stores should be doing more community based events marketing, utilizing pet food as the main sponsor of events.

“Retailers now have to give a reason for consumers to stop and come in to the stores, something fun, compelling that attracts the consumer,” Young said. “If you try to promote on price or couponing, it may work short term but again, big box wins in those types of competitions.”

Precise is found only in pet stores.

“I think it is imperative that independent pet stores stock shelves with brands only found in independent pet stores now more than ever,” Young said. “The smoke and mirror pitch that having brands everywhere brings in customers is false. Consumers are shopping for the best deal, and big box will always win the price wars.”

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