When it comes to wet cat food, is the can becoming an obsolete form of packaging?
Time will tell. But for now, cans are getting some serious competition from Tetra Pak cartons, pouches and plastic cups that offer individual meal portions.
Petcurean, the family-owned pet food company headquartered in Canada, is one of the first pet food companies to choose Tetra Pak cartons as an innovative and sustainable packaging option for its wet cat food.
Tetra Pak cartons are manufactured from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified paperboard and other controlled sources. Made from 69 percent renewable materials, they are 100 percent recyclable and BPA-free. The packaging uses fewer raw materials and is more compact to ship than cans, lessening the impact
on the environment.
The NOW FRESH range of stews and pâtés for cats is cooked at the lowest temperature for the shortest
time possible directly in the Tetra Pak cartons to help prevent cross contamination.
“We believe that this cooking process helps to ensure improved ingredient digestibility, nutrient availability
and palatability, making the food shelf stable as it also destroys naturally occurring pathogens,” said Annabelle Immega, trade marketing manager at Petcurean. “With an easy-to-open tear-off strip and no sharp edges, Tetra Pak cartons are safe to handle and easy to transport and store. Plus, they use up to 40 percent less shelf space, which, from the retailer’s standpoint, means less frequent stocking of the shelf.”
The NOW FRESH stew and pâté recipes for cats are a wild salmon stew, pork pâté and wild salmon pâté. Further, all recipes are non-GMO and made in a human-grade facility with human-grade ingredients including 100 percent fresh wild salmon, turkey or pork, and fresh potatoes, carrots, peas, cranberries sweet potatoes and apples—all considered excellent sources of antioxidants, essential vitamins and minerals and dietary fiber to support digestive health. NOW FRESH stews and pâtés also contain dried kelp, a natural source of iodine, and contain no grains, gluten, added growth hormones or artificial preservatives.
A Positive Reception
To promote its new packaging as well as the products, Petcurean works with its retail partners to establish
marketing and merchandising programs that meet the specific needs of their business. This includes providing taster packs of key products, social media campaigns, event support, custom display collateral and more.
According to Pete Brace, vice president of communications and pet care relations for Merrick Pet Care, the company’s Backcountry pouches have been well received by both retailers and consumers as this form of packaging provides an easy to serve and convenient option and also takes up less space both on the store shelves and in the kitchen cupboard. There are six Merrick Backcountry wet recipes available so that cats can indulge in all their favorite flavors such as chicken, turkey, duck, rabbit, whitefish and beef, offering complete and balanced nutrition
plus necessary moisture in a cat’s diet.
“Our Purrfect Bistro standard cans come in three textures, namely pate, minced and morsels, and our Purrfect Bistro Gourmet Shreds recipes in single serving disposable trays offers another texture which has won feline approval,” he said. “It’s a texture that allows cats to really chow down on substantial shredded pieces served in a hearty gravy.”
According to Karen Neola, founder of My Perfect Pet Inc., the manufacturer’s wet cat food dinners are a fresh-frozen blend found in store freezers but cross promoted on store shelves with dummy packaging and shelf talkers.
The product is meal-size bars for convenience, and a bag contains seven meals. They are gently baked to the minimum temperatures recommended by the FDA for food safety and at room temperature provide a moist, nutritious meal.
“We currently offer three fresh-frozen blends for cats,” Neola said. “Bengals Beef Carnivore Blend meets the AAFCO nutrient profile for adult maintenance. Our new Toby’s Turkey Carnivore Blend meets the AAFCO nutrient profile for all life stages, including kittens. And we also have our Low Phosphorus Chicken Carnivore Diet, which is formulated for cats with special dietary needs. The packing is also designed to take up as little freezer space as possible.”
Cans Still King
Cans are still the predominant packaging for wet foods, with a focus on easy-pull openers that make a “pop-up noise” many cats instantly react to, knowing a meal is about to be served.
New canned flavors to look out for from Bravo include their three top sellers, namely the Feline Cafe Turkey Fricassee, Feline Cafe 95% Duck, Turkey & Liver Dinner and Feline Cafe 95% Chicken & Liver Dinner.
“Our fricassees are pate-style in texture, while the 95 percent dinners have a stew-like consistency,” explained
Bette Schubert, co-founder and senior vice president of sales at Bravo. “Both the 95 percent Dinners and Fricassees are made in the USA from reputably sourced ingredients and meet the AAFCO standards for complete and balanced nutrition for all life stages. They’ve really struck a chord with our consumers because they are grain- and gluten-free, contain no artificial preservatives, flavors or colors and never contain guar, carrageenan or cassia gums.”
Family-owned, Missouri-based Taste of the Wild has focused on building its brand by being very interactive on social media and with its pet specialty partners by hosting in-store events.
“We encourage our fans to share photos and stories of their fur babies,” said Mark Brinkmann, vice president of operations at Taste of the Wild. “We also have a large list of specialty retailers who promote Taste of the Wild feline formulas in-store and through their social media channels.”
The brand’s two wet feline formulas are Rocky Mountain Feline Formula, a wild salmon and venison blend, and Canyon River Feline Formula made from trout and salmon. Both contain sunflower oil, which has many nutritional benefits.
“Sunflowers are rich in omega fatty acid and contain a blend of Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial to the skin and coat. Sunflower oil is also rich in vitamin E, an essential vitamin and powerful antioxidant,” he explained. “Both the packaging and the contents endorse a cat’s ancestral diet to maintain optimum good health.”
Brad Kriser, founder and president of Kriser’s Natural Pet stores, concluded that he always welcomes pet food brands to co-host events in his stores and promote them on their social media channels.
“And we do the same. It’s a win-win,” he added, “Our customers love an opportunity to interact directly with a brand and ask questions as their pets’ food is very important to them. There are so many choices. This is an opportunity
to focus on what’s best for their pet.”