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July 13, 2017

Manufacturer Supreme Petfoods is riding the crest of the wave of its launch of Selective Naturals treats for small pets and taking the brand one step further by going grain-free with its Selective Naturals food for rabbits and guinea pigs. The move follows feedback from almost 700 owners of small pets who gave the concept a resounding thumbs up, with 93 percent saying they believed that there was a benefit to feeding grain-free.

Marketing manager Claire Hamblion says the findings herald exciting times for retailers.

“We’ve never seen such strong support for a product proposition, and the need is just not currently being met in the U.S. market. If you thought naturals were good for business, just wait and see what Selective Naturals Grain Free does,” Hamblion said.

The company carried out the online survey in July and found support for the natural category, with 97 percent saying they would like to feed natural food which they perceived to be food that included grass or hay, wild or foraged ingredients and plain, simple ingredients.

Asked what made a food for their pet healthy, rabbit and guinea pig owners ranked nutritionally balanced, high fiber and natural as their top three, but almost a quarter also included grain-free.

Asked what cereals they would look for in a food, an overwhelming 71 percent said they would choose grain-free. They also explained their motivations for their choice–50 percent of respondents felt that this would be less likely to cause health problems in their pets and 35 percent felt the food would be easier to digest. Overall, 93 percent said that they believed there would be a benefit to feeding grain-free.

Perhaps surprisingly, almost one third felt that rabbit foods were too cheap and said they would prefer to pay more for higher quality, and 52 percent said there wasn’t enough choice, showing that there is still plenty to play for in this category.

When asked what ingredients they would like to see featured less often, most stated that they would like to see sugary ingredients and cereals banished from their pet’s food.

Hamblion said the results could not be clearer.

“Based on this feedback, we’ve developed a food that really fits the bill,” she said. “Selective Grain Free is fully extruded and respects the natural diet by being rich in tasty Timothy Hay and garden vegetables and contains no corn or wheat. It’s high in fiber and is fortified with vitamins and minerals for nutritional balance with no added sugars or artificial colors.”

The survey also provided useful data on the demographic profile of the typical rabbit and guinea pig owner. The 25-34 age group was most representative, accounting for almost 40 percent of respondents, while the 35-44 age group accounted for around one in five.

Hamblion says that retailers need to be aware of the high lifetime value of these pet owners.

“We noticed a very high level of multi-pet ownership, with one in three also owning a cat and one in three also owning a dog,” she said. “This backs up our previous research and highlights the importance of catering for their needs as a one-stop shop for food for all their pets.”

Retailers are advised to get their orders in for Selective Grain Free as early as possible. Hamblion says production is already gearing up to meet demand at the company’s Suffolk base.

“Selective Naturals treats literally flew off the shelves, and we fully anticipate that Grain Free could be even bigger,” she said. “The evidence is there and retailers can feel confident that by making a big song and dance about grain free that they can encourage some really high-value customers through the door. Everybody wins.”

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