Humanization Driving Natural Trend
“With today’s great humanization trend of pets, we are feeding our pets the same way we are eating—natural and organic,” said Susan Parker, general manager at Scarlett Pet Food.
The company delivers just that for pet owners seeking human-quality products.
“We offer seed-based, complete, balanced diets containing natural fruits, nuts and veggies for companion birds and small animals,” she said. Scarlett’s entire line of natural diets contains no artificial colors or preservatives.
According to Parker, that has become pretty important to customers.
“Because of this trend we are seeing in the marketplace, retailers need to stay current by offering their customers what they are looking for,” she said. “Consumers are well educated today. They typically do their research on the Internet before coming into the retail store. They know what they want and they expect the retailer to have it. It makes sense to offer the natural diets along with the traditional products.”
Scarlett Pet Foods is not offered in big box stores.
“We are the independent pet’s ‘house brand,’ which allows the retailer to offer the customer a product that cannot be bought everywhere. This builds customer loyalty for the retailer.”
Scarlett isn’t the only one picking up on this trend. Merrick Pet Care has been in the natural game for years. They use real whole foods in their all-natural recipes.
“We understand that pet parents actively seek out the very best for their pets,” said Betsy Berger, communications manager at Merrick Pet Care. “That’s why at Merrick we strive to make the best food ever for pets that delivers on the highest nutrition, quality and taste.”
Merrick’s pet foods let their natural diets really shine. The first ingredient is always real deboned meat because dogs and cats need high-quality protein.
“We add fresh fruits and vegetables for additional vitamins, minerals and fiber,” said Berger. “We use only the freshest, all-natural ingredients—no additives, sweeteners, artificial colors or preservatives and no cheap fillers like corn, soy or wheat—and no ingredients from China.”
Along with providing such great ingredients, the advantages to feeding Merrick’s natural pet foods are numerous.
“All-natural recipes like Merrick’s offer benefits in terms of nutrition, quality and taste,” said Berger. “For example, high-quality proteins provide healthy fuel plus healthy fats for concentrated energy, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for healthy skin and coat, powerful levels of glucosamine for healthy joints and chondroitin for better flexibility. Fresh fruits and vegetables provide a pet with important vitamins and minerals. For pet parents, a high-quality, all-natural diet provides them the peace of mind that they’re giving their pets all they need to thrive.”
Emphasizing Natural Ingredients
Solid Gold Pet recently changed their packaging to highlight the amazing natural ingredients found in every bag.
“As America’s first holistic pet food brand, Solid Gold Pet formulas are crafted with the highest quality of natural ingredients and are available for dogs and cats of all sizes, life stages and diet needs,” said Jennifer Leen Berglund, director of marketing at Solid Gold. “You’ll find a variety of flavor profiles and options across an expanded line of new, healthy, whole grains to grain- and gluten-free options for both dogs and cats.”
Solid Gold’s lineup will meet any pet owner’s criteria for optimum health.
“In an effort to deliver premium pet nutrition, we’ve sourced some of the highest quality, nutrient-rich ingredients on the planet,” said Berglund. “From free-range venison to sustainably fished Alaskan pollock, we’re relentless in our efforts to find high-quality proteins. These proteins are combined with other ingredients such as pumpkin, cranberries, kelp and lentils to create formulas that are both nutritious and delicious for pets.
What’s not in the food is very important as well. All of Solid Gold’s formulas are free of corn, wheat, soy and artificial flavors and preservatives.
The company has also recently launched seven new dry food recipes for cats and ten new recipes for dogs to offer even more variety to consumers interested in all-natural brands. Several of them include specific ingredients to benefit health problems like UTIs and obesity.
“Some of our new cat products include Nature’s Harmony Antioxidant Blend, which includes cranberries in the formula and Fit as a Fiddle, our new weight control product featuring fresh caught Alaskan pollock,” said Berglund.
In fact, Solid Gold offers formulas with a propriety blend of 11 nutrients, each delivering a specific health benefit. Information is written directly on the colorful foil barrier bag to not only attract customers but also to educate them.
Natural Balance has “natural” in the company name because they know the importance of providing the best nutrition available.
“Pets thrive by consuming the right variety of healthy foods that support their needs throughout their lives,” said Heather Govea, general manager at Natural Balance Pet Foods. “Just like with our health, it is important that pets consume wholesome ingredients and key nutrients in order to feel good inside and look good, too.”
According to Govea, Natural Balance pet foods are as unique as they are healthy.
“Natural Balance carefully selects high-quality ingredients to create wholesome formulas which provide the nutrition your pet needs to lead a healthy, naturally balanced lifestyle,” she said. “Our pet food is scientifically formulated with optimal levels of premium proteins, fruits, vegetables and key nutrients like complex carbohydrates that all work together to support overall pet well-being. In creating our unique, high-quality formulas, we offer ingredients that most pets have not been exposed to in their normal diets, like rabbit, kangaroo, pumpkin and legumes. Our products never contain any artificial flavors or colors.”
They even created a special program so customers know they aren’t feeding their pets anything unsafe.
“At Natural Balance, the health and safety of pets is our first priority,” said Govea. “Not only are our products made from the finest ingredients but they are extensively tested for safety through our Buy With Confidence program. Every production run of Natural Balance Pet Foods is tested for nine known contaminants before distribution so that pet parents can Buy With Confidence and know that their pet’s food is safe.”
Halo is very proud of their all-natural product line.
“For more than 25 years, Halo, Purely for Pets has created holistic pet products of uncompromising quality, with real meat and never chicken meal or other rendered animal parts,” said David Yaskulka, VP of marketing communications at Halo. “Formulated with vitamins, minerals and other trace nutrients, Halo never contains artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.
Halo uses whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables, with no fillers.”
Once again, Halo knows all about pet humanization trends. They provide ingredients that pet owners themselves eat to stay healthy.
“In addition to natural diets free of artificial colors, flavors and preservatives, consumers are looking for superfoods and health food in their pets’ diet, like kale, kelp, quinoa, coconut oil and berries and novel proteins like venison, quail and trout,” said Yaskulka.
Halo’s products offer additional—and unexpected—benefits.
“In a survey of shelters that have received donations of Halo, 75 percent said the quality of Halo Spot’s Stew ‘definitely helps’ dogs and cats to get adopted,” said Yaskulka. “The reasons cited—shinier coats, clearer eyes, more energy and vitality—all help shelter pets put their best paw forward. Halo is proud to make a difference for shelter pets in this way.”
Cardinal’s Pet Botanics line started as dog food rolls that were primarily used by trainers to reward their animals with a healthy, meaty treat. Now, the company has also gotten into the natural food game.
“Every Pet Botanics product includes a special blend of botanical antioxidants called BotaniFits,” said Barbara Denzer, head of marketing at Cardinal Pet Care. “Our dog foods are grain-free, which can help alleviate allergies and digestive problems and our formulas are low glycemic to provide sustained energy.”
Pet Botanics’ BotaniFits blend uses beneficial ingredients found in nature like rosemary, cranberries, dandelion and Yucca schidigera to provide antioxidants and key vitamins.
“Pet Botanics products provide lean protein for energy and muscle maintenance,” said Denzer. “Our grain-free products have helped many dogs who struggle with allergies, itchy dry skin or other inflammatory responses. The super palatable formulas make meal time or treat time that much easier for pets and their owners.”
Treating Pets Naturally
Natural treats have also exploded in popularity throughout the industry.
WHIMZEES Dental Chews were developed to help remove plaque and tarter while dogs chew away on them. They also help retailers stay on top of the demand for all-natural brands.
“There are a few trends that are very important at the moment to pet parents and retailers alike,” said Jeff Camosci, vice president of marketing and sales in North America, Paragon Pet Products. “The first is ‘natural.’ Pet parents are reading the ingredient labels of consumable products and seeking out natural products with limited ingredients that they can identify.”
WHIMZEES are also great for tapping into another common trend.
“There are more and more dogs suffering from allergies. Fighting allergies is a big reason that pet parents look more often for grain-free or gluten-free treats for their pets and retailers are answering the call by carrying products absent of glutens and grains on their shelves.WHIMZEES are made using limited, vegetable-based ingredients only of human-food-grade quality and are free of wheat, corn, gluten, preservatives and added sugars.”
That isn’t all that makes WHIMZEES a unique item to stock.
“Because of many recent recalls from meat-based pet products, there is a growing group of pet owners looking specifically for vegetarian products and WHIMZEES offers a true vegetarian solution and human-grade ingredients.”
Top Dog Kitchen makes treats with extremely limited ingredients. There are no by-products or preservatives in them. They come in flavors like chicken, lamb, beef, turkey and sweet potato and they don’t contain fillers, additives, salts, sugars, dyes or preservatives.
Top Dog Kitchen’s line of treats is also allergy-friendly.
“We are constantly questioned by customers about their pet’s itching or ear problems and more,” said Kathleen Menchero, founder of Top Dog Kitchen. “So we want to help them start from the inside out.”
Plato Pet Treats’ entire product line falls under the natural category.
“From very early on, we became organic certified,” said Aaron Merrell, cofounder and co-owner of Plato. “We aren’t adding anything artificial. We aren’t adding any syrups or sugars or flavorings to the product itself. We have simple, very easy to understand ingredients.”
Plato Pet Treats also feature natural ingredients like fruits and vegetables.
“We have focused on creating a product that pet owners can feel good about feeding their dog and that the dog can respond positively to,” said Merrell.
Jones Natural Chews bakes their products themselves and avoids artificial ingredients.
“The ingredients are sourced from USA sources and are the natural version of the product,” said Laura Jones-Herr, finance officer at Jones Natural Chews. “We have stringent guidelines we use to ensure the ingredients are natural and have not been chemically altered.”
These natural ingredients offer a long-lasting chewing experience to dogs, with owners benefiting by the dogs needing fewer treats overall.
“Because they are meat based, they tend to have a higher protein content,” said Jones-Herr. “The bones and some of the chews also provide a longer lasting chew. A dog has a natural instinct for chewing and these products help to provide a great chewing experience.”
Jones Natural Chews does a lot of customer education for retailers.
“We include a recommended dog size for each product and have educational material included on the inside of the labels to help guide the customer to pick the right chew or treat for their dog,” said Jones-Herr “It is our goal to provide a safe, fun chewing experience for every dog.”
There is clearly no shortage of natural diets and treats for retailers to offer customers seeking healthy alternatives for their pets.