It’s said that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side—but if we’re talking about New Zealand, it actually might be. The gorgeously green country—known so well for its beautiful landscape that it has been the filming site for many a movie, including the Lord of the Rings Trilogy—is home to Ziwi pet food company. The brand’s homeland is essential to its product, as Ziwi dog and cat recipes are made using locally-sourced ingredients in their family-owned kitchens.
“Because we source our meats and seafood from local farms and suppliers and are the only air-dried brand that owns its air-drying kitchens, Ziwi has complete farm-to-bowl oversight,” said Sharon Durham, marketing communications manager for Ziwi USA. “It took Ziwi about three years to perfect our proprietary, twin-stage air-drying process, which is a modern and refined twist on the ages-old method of naturally preserving meats.”
According to Durham, the ingredients that make up 98 percent of the Ziwi Air-Dried diets are meat, organs, small amounts of ground bone and New Zealand green mussel. The remaining two percent is comprised of chicory inulin, parsley, dried kelp, salt, and select vitamins and minerals. The mixture is spread onto specially-designed trays and placed into twin-stage air-drying chambers, where air is continually circulated until moisture levels reach 14 percent or lower. The finished product is quality-tested, then cut, packaged, and shipped worldwide.
And since the diets are so heavily comprised with meats, what Ziwi calls “The New Zealand Difference,” certainly does make, well, a difference.
“New Zealand has a temperate climate, which allows for outdoor grazing in open pastures year-round. This enables us to source meats that are strictly grass-fed and grass-finished,” Durham explained. “Benefits of grass-fed meats over grain-fed/feedlot meats include lower saturated fat levels, high levels of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and more antioxidant vitamins, such as Vitamin E. The meats we source from New Zealand’s free-range local farms are also free from added antibiotics, hormones or growth promotants.”
And just as important as the ingredients that make up pet food is the process by which it is prepared. The air-drying process that Ziwi uses to produce its dog and cat foods gently eliminates pathogens while protecting the nutritional integrity of the raw ingredients, according to Durham. It also eliminates the use of binder ingredients (peas, potato, vegetable oils and starches) and results in a food that is shelf-stable and requires no freezing, thawing or refrigeration. Another notable difference in Ziwi air-dried is that it contains no glycerin, an ingredient that some companies add as a humectant, sweetener, or yield enhancer, but which provides no nutritional value to dogs or cats.
“The nutrient profile of air-dried Ziwi is comparable to a raw diet, but with scoop-and-serve convenience,” Durham said. “Ziwi air-dried is calorie- and nutrient-dense, and 95 percent digestible. This means feeding amounts are smaller, making Ziwi less expensive to feed than other air-dried, freeze-dried and dehydrated diets.”