Innovation has been at the forefront of the pet food and treat categories, and brands like Canada-based PureBites are major drivers that set the current trends. Marc Cathcart, president of Pure Treats, offers his insight into the freeze-dried treat topic and how PureBites continues to look to the future for the next big thing.
What inspired PureBites to go the freeze-dried treat route when the brand was formed in 2005?
Our vision when we started PureBites was to provide the finest healthy pet treats, focused on our core principle of asking pet parents to turn the bag around and look at our natural and pure ingredients. When PureBites was born in 2005, most dog and cat treats being sold were filled with artificial ingredients and preservatives. It was like going to a grocery store and buying a bag of chips for your pet. As pet owners ourselves, we thought pet parents would love to buy healthy, nutrient rich treats for their furry loved ones that they might find at their local butcher. We introduced PureBites to pet parents in 2006 with our first one-ingredient treat: PureBites 100 percent pure raw, freeze-dried, human -grade beef liver, and we followed that introduction with our very popular 100 percent pure raw, freeze-dried chicken breast treats.
Today, PureBites is a leading brand in the freeze dried category. We’ve spent the last 15 years working with retailers and educating pet parents about the benefits of one-ingredient, raw, freeze-dried treats. We invest heavily in sampling, spreading the word in social media, as well as advertising and in store support like displays and shelf talkers.
Pet owners are undeniably more conscious of what they are feeding their furry loved ones and they want to know what inside their bag of treats. According to Acosta, 66 percent of millennials are looking for pet products with natural and fresh ingredients.
We also strive to give back to the pet community as much as possible, our promise as a company is to make pets lives healthier and happier. During these unprecedented times of the COVID-19 pandemic, we really wanted to support the pets and pet parents who were in the greatest need, so we donated over 800,000 treats and 13,000 meals to the ASPCA and Toronto Humane Society.
Do you feel that freeze-dried treats are a healthier option than traditional treats?
Raw, freeze-dried treats offer such amazing benefits for dogs and cats. Freeze drying is a delicate process that preserves the structural and nutritional integrity of fresh whole raw food. Dogs and cats receive the nutritional benefits that raw proteins have to offer including high protein levels, low calorie levels and high levels of essential vitamins nutrients and minerals like Omega-3 and 6, taurine, iron and zinc. Freeze-dried treats are also perfect for dogs and cats that are overweight, diabetic, have allergies, gastrointestinal disorders, or are on a restricted diet (low carb, low sodium, low calorie, no wheat or raw).
Since our treats are freeze dried, there is no need to add fillers, binders, or artificial flavors like traditional pet treats.
Freeze-dried treats are known to hold their nutritional value for longer and have a long shelf life too. This makes them a great option to stock up your pantry for emergency situations or if you do not like to shop often.
Finally, freeze dried treats are also highly palatable as freeze drying locks in the raw aroma, texture, and freshness of proteins that pets crave. Dogs and cats go absolutely crazy for our PureBites raw freeze-dried treats.
Are all freeze-dried treats created equal?
Not all freeze dried treats are created equal, so it’s important that pet parents look for these key features when assessing a new treat for their dog or cat.
First, pet parents should turn the bad around and look at the ingredients. You want to see a limited number of ingredients, preferably only proteins. No fillers or preservatives.
Second, make sure those ingredients are of top quality. Be on the look out for where they are sourced, is the salmon or fish wild caught and are they made using human-grade ingredients.
Next, you need to assess the company that manufactures the treats. Do they have proven quality processes? Any recalls? Where are the treats made? All PureBites freeze dried treats are made in the USA with human grade ingredients. PureBites production processes are best in class including standards such as GMP, BRC, SQF, and HACCP. With tens of millions of bags sold to date, pet parents can trust our treats are of the highest quality.
Lastly, you want to look at the treats themselves and make sure they fit your needs. For example, many pet parents use freeze dried treats to train their pets, but many treats are hard to break or just fall apart. The PureBites chop can easily be broken into smaller pieces and is the considered the treat of choice for many professional trainers.
What are the limitations to the varieties of freeze-dried treats?
At PureBites there are not many limitations. Our team is constantly searching the globe for new unique raw protein sources that will make pets go crazy, but also offer the nutritional benefits pet parents want in their treats. Currently in our treat lineup, we offer 10 raw protein flavors for dogs and 13 raw protein flavors for cats. Examples of some PureBites raw proteins include 100 percent pure duck, salmon, cheese, lamb, shrimp, tuna, minnows, turkey, and ocean whitefish.
What do you believe the future holds for freeze-dried treats?
At PureBites, we are so excited about the future of the freeze dried category. Every year we have seen growth in this category as more and more pet parents jump on board. We see nothing but continued growth over the next five years, as more retailers support raw, freeze-dried and more pets try and experience the benefits of raw, freeze-dried.
As a trailblazer in this category, PureBites is constantly bringing new innovations and ideas to the market that will satisfy the demands of pet parents and the health of their pets today but also in the future.
Recently we introduced a new line of raw freeze dried training treats called Mini-PureBites Trainers. These new treats will offer pet parents the chance to train their dogs or treat their small dogs with specially cut small pieces of raw freeze dried beef liver, chicken breast or lamb liver. All three options are made with only one human-grade ingredient and they are all 100 percent natural, pure, gluten free and easy to digest with no preservatives. These treats also offer a great value with a bag of Mini-PureBites Beef Liver Trainers having on average 300 training treats per bag for a suggested everyday retail price of $7.99. We also just introduced our jumbo size bag of dog treats in 100 percent pure beef liver and chicken breast. Our PureBites jumbo size bags are packed with over six pounds of raw protein and 1,000 treats per bag.