Pet retailers know that their lineup of dog chews and treats need to be varied and diverse in order to meet the needs and desires of today’s consumers. More pet parents want treats that not only taste good but are also filled with healthy ingredients that are beneficial to the dog’s well-being. In addition to strengthening the human-animal bond, treats are also becoming a popular tool for dog training. Pet Age recently spoke with Lucy Caprez, marketing director at Natural Cravings Pet Treats, to find out how her brand has created a winning approach to crafting innovative and nutritious dog chews and treats.
How have recent disruptions in the supply chain sped up the need for innovations within the treat sector?
The recent disruptions in the supply chain have been the origin of innovation for us. First, the pandemic, and now with the geopolitical issues in Europe there are many supply chain issues that have affected our industry. Some countries that supply grass-fed body parts are struggling to keep up with the growing demand while slaughterhouses are cutting back on their production due to the decrease of demand for beef worldwide, but especially in war-affected areas. If they produce less beef, then there are less biproducts to offer to the pet industry. As these issues come up it is important for us as a company to remain relevant and it is times like these when innovation is most important.
As we faced supply issues with grass-fed bully sticks, we had to put on our thinking caps and find a product that was as long lasting and as digestible as a bully stick; Enter our Longlastics collagen sticks. In the creation of Longlastics, we realized that the success that we are having with our original beef cheek products could be duplicated with Longlastics. With our Longlastics you get a stick that looks a lot like a bully and is as sustainable as a Beef Cheek with the same added value of being rich in collagen and highly digestible; Longlastics are 99.4 percent digestible, according to our tests.
How do you differentiate body part chews, cookies/biscuits and soft treats?
When it comes to body parts, it is all about a single ingredient for us. We focus on the natural cravings of the dog that needs a protein rich diet. Both our lines offer duck feet, angus beef tendons, bully sticks, beef cheeks, Longlastics collagen sticks and white bones that are not overprocessed, so they still have that meaty flavor and the nutrition dogs’ desire. With treats on the other hand, we offer single- and limited- ingredients and recipes. The reason we have a wide variety, is because we try to cater to the different dietary needs of different dogs. For single ingredient treats, we have Beef Liver Jerky and Beef Roasters (lung bites). We also have our famous Chicken Breast Strips with only two ingredients that smell like Kentucky chicken, and of course, we must mention our famous Sizzle Sticks that are now being revamped and refreshed with a new name: Sizzle Waggers. We decided to rename them to truly capture the reaction of the dog and the treat. All you see is a dog wagging their tail every time you pull one out of the bag. These treats are a soft recipe, they are also breakable making them perfect for training. Sizzle Waggers are our best recipe treat by far.
How does treat packaging play a role in brand awareness?
Since we have two brands, we don’t want either of them to get lost on the shelves when placed next to other brands or confused when placed next to each other. Yes, they are both made by us but they each have their own brand identity, voice and, in a way, personality. Natural Cravings USA and Barking Buddha Pet both cater to pet parents but the packaging of each brand appeals to each target market they speak to. For example, Natural Cravings speaks to a “walk in the park in America.” The colors we use are patriotic and show in the packaging that these products are made in the U.S.A. and are as natural as a “walk in the park.” On the other hand, our sister brand, Barking Buddha is marketed more for Millennials and Xennials that are looking for grass-fed, sustainable products. The packaging focus for Barking Buddha speaks to the tagline “Your Dog’s Diet in Balance.” The Barking Buddha customer craves a product that is not only sustainable and planet friendly, but also remains affordable with USDA quality. The details in our packaging for both brands have specific attributes that appeal to the customer we are speaking to.
Why should retailers be carrying a wide variety of functional treats?
Humans, dogs and pets in general need healthy variety in their diet to support a healthy gut, and a healthy lifestyle all around. By having a healthy assortment of treats the retailer is not only keeping their treat section fresh and appealing to the consumer, but it also shows the buyer the different options they can have if they choose to switch because of a change in their pet’s diet. Sometimes a small change in protein can help a dog transition from one food to another, and why not, just to keep it fun for their dog while they have a treat. All our productions have a functionality attributed to them. Dogs in many ways have different health needs just like humans. The treats are an extension and a booster for the healthy food they consume daily. Our Green Lamb Tripe is excellent for gut health, and it is allergy friendly. All our jerky treats are breakable and training friendly. By offering a variety of proteins, we are helping stores offer variety and dog owners keep their dog’s diet in balance and fun at the same time.
What is your advice for pet parents who want to treat their senior dogs or dogs that suffer from dental issues?
We are not only business owners, but we are also pet parents and as we like to say, “We speak dog.”
Our 15-year-old German shepherd mix, that we rescued in 2008, is now a senior living her best life. Although she has all her teeth and they are in great shape, we notice that she is less likely to chew on a hard chew due to her energy level and less aggressive nature because she is in her later years. This has an adverse effect on her dental health but what we user to keep her teeth and gums in shape are softer chews like USA Pedicured Duck Feet and our Monster Beef Trachea.
These treats not only support her dental health, but one helps express her anal gland and the other supports her joint health with rich chondroitin and glucosamine. All done the natural way — through natural chews.