Treats originally were a way to show a pet affection in between meals, a type of reward for good behavior. It was a way to spoil a pet without feeding them a whole meal.
The trends of treats has evolved since then as people become more conscious of what they are giving their pets.
Depending who you ask, what the biggest trend experts are seeing in this category can vary. Some say it’s safety and quality, others say it’s where the product is sourced or its nutritional value.
While they are all important, one of the biggest trends consumers looking for healthier yet affordable alternatives to high calorie, low nutrition treats.
“With the rise of pet obesity awareness, pet parents view treats as an extension of their pets’ healthy diet, seeking out nutritious whole food ingredients,” Eric Abbey, president of Loving Pets, said. “Consumers are moving away from artificially soft treats that use vegetable glycerins, and moving toward all-natural recipes with ingredients they recognize and treats absent of potentially harmful additives, chemicals, preservatives and by-products.”
Loving Pets’ It’s Purely Natural Dog Treats are made in the USA, with all-natural and locally-sourced ingredients. Each of the eight recipe combinations are free of gluten, preservatives, and byproducts. USA made with USA farm-grown ingredients.
Barkworthies says its mission is to provide the best quality of life to dogs.
“We believe that simpler is better,” Bill Chilian, marketing vice president of Barkworthies said. “So we stress single-ingredient nutrition, never using additives, preservatives or anything artificial.”
Making the Treat
John Gigliotti, of Whole Life Pet Products, said they have learned what customers want by getting out of the office and talking to pet owners.
“The trends that matter today are all about quality and safety of product,” Gigliotti said. “Not about complicated formulas and blueberries versus goji berries. Consumers want to trust the brands they buy and know where ingredients are sourced, produced and packaged. They also want to know what type of ingredient testing is being done. It’s been an ongoing trend since 2007 that has really taken over in the last 12 months due to the enormous amount of product recalls that seem to be never ending.”
Gigliotti said that all of Whole Life’s products are at the cutting edge of what’s going on in the pet industry and their products are the highest, and safest, quality that is possible to achieve.
Lonnie Schwimmer from Nootie said they see a stronger demand for products that are Made in the USA and also exotic or alternative proteins.
“The trick is to come out with products that not everyone else has,” Schwimmer said. “That is what we do best at Nootie. Nootie creates healthy products that are fun to buy. We look for gaps in the market place and fill those gaps. Take for instance duck as a main protein. We are launching new duck jerky chews, however we gave them all organic flavors that we know dogs love. They are also in original shapes.
“Everyone is racing to replace the void in chicken jerky as well. We have created Jerky Chews, which are more of a cross between a dog treat and a jerky filet. That way it functions like a filet and has the mouth watering flavoring recipes we have developed.”
Schwimmer also said another strength of the company is that they create flavors dogs will love. Such as their Hickory Smoked Duck and BBQ Duck.
Stella & Chewy’s has been around for over 10 years and one of their signatures is the freeze drying of their products. Marie Moody, the president and founder of Stella & Chewy’s, said that consumers have become very comfortable with the level of quality that is offered in their freeze dried diet.
“Some of the things that really set us apart are that it’s manufactured in our own manufacturing plant in Wisconsin,” Moody said. “We have our own in-house freeze dryers and there aren’t many treat companies that do. It’s appealing to customers to know that it’s all manufactured in house in a safe and reputable environment.”
Moody said freeze drying is an emerging category, and that dogs tend to love these types of treats, because of its palatability.
“Freeze drying itself is considered the gold standard of drying,” Moody said. “Because it’s a way you can take a product in its frozen, raw state, and remove the moisture. Which then makes it more shelf stable.”