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November 30, 2016

Dry cat food has undergone a big transformation over the years. According to reports from Statista, dry cat food sales have nearly doubled since 2000, rising from $2.3 billion to $3.8 billion in 2014. One of the results of this data is that manufacturers are focused on providing a better quality control, smarter manufacturing facilities and a better understanding of premium, functional ingredients.

Solid Gold is one such manufacturer. The company’s high-protein dry cat food delivers 40-percent protein and healthy fats in the form of pumpkin, blueberries and spearmint to aid in overall health and well-being. Indigo Moon, one of Solid Gold’s first dry cat food formulas combines the perfect balance of 20 nutritious superfoods with a generous level of digestible ocean fish meal to deliver balanced levels of Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids. Solid Gold offers a wide variety of delicious and nutritious dry food recipes for cats of all ages and lifestyles.

“As America’s first holistic pet food brand, Solid Gold has been delivering transformative nutrition for dogs and cats for over 40 years,” said Bob Rubin, CEO and president. “All of Solid Gold Pet’s formulas focus on a balance of high-quality proteins and nutrient-dense superfoods carefully curated for a pet’s overall health and well-being. We believe that a healthy pet is a happy pet, and a life of enjoyment with our pets begins with a solid nutritional foundation. With a broad line of dry food offerings, Solid Gold has formulas designed to meet a variety of nutritional needs and life stages.”

Going Exotic
The past decade has also seen manufacturers take a walk on the wild side with exotic proteins capable of resolving health issues that range from food allergies to weight gain. For example, Addiction’s ultra-premium foods are made with innovative protein sources, like venison, salmon, kangaroo, eel and brushtail possum (a marsupial found in New Zealand). The fully rotational holistic pet food line was founded in 2002. To date, Addiction is the only brand to offer a dry pet food with salmon certified by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch “Best Choice” program.

“First and foremost, I’m a pet owner and, like most owners, I wanted only the best for my pet,” said Jerel Kwek, CEO and co-founder of Addiction Foods. “All of our proteins are humanely raised, antibiotic-free, hormone-free and hypoallergenic to provide a healthier natural solution to prevent allergies from more common proteins found in pet food.”

“As a family-owned brand, I’m proud that Addiction Foods always puts the health of pets over our profits,” Kwek said. “We let nothing get in the way of delivering the highest quality, unique foods and treats to benefit dogs and cats across the world and ensure they can live their healthiest, happiest, fullest lives.”

Humanization reigns supreme and manufacturers continue to mimic human trends, such as grain-free recipes. Consumers have taken it upon themselves to become educated when it comes to their cat’s food which means manufacturers need to be cautious about claims they make on labels.

“Humanization tends to influence the cat food market in the United States; many pets have an intolerance for glutens or allergy to grains,” said Brad Gruber, president and COO of Health Extension Pet Care, a family-owned holistic company. “We develop diets that are grain free and offer several different protein options to help decrease the risk of developing a food allergy as well as preventing cats from becoming finicky.”

Each of their recipes contain high levels of animal proteins that are grass fed, free range or wild caught.

“We also use low glycemic ingredients like chickpeas and lentils to help prevent obesity and relief from common allergies,” Gruber continued. “We use novel ingredients like coconut oil and organic apple cider vinegar to aid in digestion, help boost the immune system and provide a shinier, healthy coat. We’re proud that all of our feline formulas are manufactured in the USA, have never had a product recall and have never lost a taste test.”

How dry diets are fed can be just as important as the diet itself.

“Cats need to hunt their food, not be served from a bowl,” said Dr. Elizabeth Bales, founder of NoBowl Feeding System. “The NoBowl Feeding System satisfies your cat’s inborn instinct to hunt, letting your cat hunt, catch and play with its food the way nature intended. Using our patented training system and the food your cat is already eating, you portion 1/5 of the day’s ration into each of the five NoBowls and hide them. The NoBowl Feeding System is the ultimate in Feline Environmental Enrichment.”

Premium foods offer small boutique stores an opportunity to educate and differentiate. New advances in feeding and different approaches to feed should be communicated to consumers. These are foods that require some knowledge of nutrition and it’s left up to retailers to communicate the value of a premium diet to pet owners.

Many small retailers have built up their business carrying these sought-after pet foods containing simplified ingredients. However, specializing in premium pet foods does not come without its fair share of challenges, including higher pricing and shorter shelf life of the product due to it containing no added preservatives. These difficulties can be overcome with education and expressing the benefits of high-quality, limited-ingredient foods.

Try Before You Buy
The healthiest food in the world will not be of value to a cat if it refuses to eat it. A sampling program is one of the most efficient ways to overcome that issue. Not only do sampling programs cut down on store returns, but they also encourage pet owners to justify a higher spend when they know their cat already enjoys the food. This is particularly important when dealing with a premium pet food.

As always, education is key for small stores to succeed in the cat food category. Knowing the benefits of each product line and being familiar with the diet results will help any retailer overcome the challenges associated with carrying premium dry cat foods.

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