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February 15, 2017

Freeze dried raw treats made from proteins like chicken or salmon are one of the biggest trends currently being highlighted on the feline treat shelf. They are healthy, neat and do double duty, as they can be added to both kibble and wet recipes to entice finicky eaters to the food bowl.

Today’s Trends
“Our Merrick Backcountry freeze-dried raw cat treats are available in chicken and salmon and bring together two mega trends in the pet food aisle—namely, freeze-dried raw products and single ingredient proteins such as chicken and salmon,” explained Pete Brace, vice president of communications and pet parent relations. “And yes, they are perfect to be added to the food bowl in their treat form or crushed and sprinkled onto kibble to enhance mealtimes.”

Scott Brownell, director of sales for Grandma Lucy’s, concurred with Brace.

“We have definitely seen a shift in the cat treat market with customers looking for a single source option with no fillers and overall a healthier option to feed to their pets. Our Singles Chicken and Singles Fish options are currently our most popular treats.

“When it comes to promoting them with our retail partners, we offer in-store discounts, social media boosted announcements, coupons and taste testings,” he added. “We like to take a multi-faceted creative approach to promote our products and introduce them to new customers.”

The company also has new treats debuting at the Global Pet Expo next month but is keeping the information under wraps until the trade show.

Caru Pet Food reports that its Salmon and Chicken Baked Bites Recipes, which are part of their Soft ‘n Tasty line that launched at Superzoo in 2016, are selling well.

“Cat owners are becoming increasingly conscientious about the edibles they select for their felines. They’re migrating toward meaty, limited ingredient treats that are rich in antioxidants, Omega 3s and other healthy nutrients,” said Adrian Pettyan, CEO and co-founder of Caru Pet Food. “There is no question that made in the USA continues to be a purchase driver and now more consumers are further seeking treats that are also made from non-GMO ingredients. Our Soft ‘n Tasty line meets all these criteria. And we have plans to expand the line.”

Nutritional Needs
According to Bette Schubert, co-founder and senior vice president of sales for Bravo, another growing trend in the treat aisle is products specifically formulated to meet unique feline nutritional needs.

“The industry as a whole is more cognizant of the fact that cats require double the amount of protein that dogs do,” Schubert said. “This translates to more treats being formulated with higher protein levels, organs and amino acids, including the recommended levels of taurine and arginine, essential for feline nutrition. We are going to see more treats being made with added organs and less with added vegetables, as cats really have no dietary requirement for carbohydrates.

“Our Healthy Bites and Healthy Medleys freeze dried treats provide nutritionally-sound options for feline pet parents,” she said. “Our top proteins in the Healthy Bites line are salmon and chicken, while the Mariner’s Medley, a combination of salmon, cod, and shrimp, is another favorite among our feline fans.”

Counting Calories
It’s important that cat owners take the calories in treats into account in a cat’s overall calorie count for the day.

“That’s why treats should never be considered junk food and wasted calories,” said Chanda Leary-Coutu, senior marketing communications manager at WellPet. “Healthier snacking is becoming a major priority for pet parents. Similar to the human snack industry, we’re making sure that treats for cats (and dogs) are made with wholesome, quality ingredients that can help supplement their regular diets. Our snacks contain no fillers, artificial colors or flavors or meat byproducts. We’re seeing a growing interest in grain-free treats to help with weight control in training and also to accommodate pets with grain allergies or sensitivities.

“We recently introduced three new flavors of Kittles. They are Duck & Cranberries, Turkey & Cranberries and Whitefish & Cranberries,” she said. “Cats are known for having finicky palates, so these new flavors give cat parents even more options to choose from when it comes to treat time.”

It’s Purely Natural is a single ingredient line of cat treats from Loving Pets and is available in four flavors: beef lung, chicken, buffalo and shrimp.

“This line also promotes the single ingredient protein trend along with ingredient labeling that easily identifies the contents, and, most importantly, shows what is not included,” said Eric Abbey, president and founder of the New Jersey-based company. “And, to this end, Purely Natural Cat Treats have no additives, glycerin, artificial preservatives or fillers.

“Our research has shown that cat owners seek out high quality, yet affordable treats on the retail shelf for their feline friends,” he said. “We believe our treat line is competitively priced. Cats need a diet focused on healthy proteins because in terms of their dietary needs, protein is the cornerstone of their nutrition, keeping them both healthy within and looking good.”

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