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Variety on Store Shelves: Fresh Frozen is Making Moves in the Pet Food Market

By Danielle Opetz//July 1, 2024//

Variety on Store Shelves: Fresh Frozen is Making Moves in the Pet Food Market

By: Danielle Opetz//July 1, 2024//

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Market trends and innovation are part of a perpetual cycle that drives today’s pet food marketplace. Innovation sparks demand. Demand inspires innovation. We’ve seen this cycle for decades. The humanization of our pets and the prioritization of their health have motivated more pet parents than ever before to seek out higher-quality food and treats for their dogs and cats in greater varieties.

The increased demand for premium nutrition and a willingness to spend more for better have opened the aperture for manufacturers to formulate and innovate foods in new ways. And, in this expansion of the premium market, they offer new opportunities for retailers to find new ways to better serve their customers while increasing what’s in the shopping cart.

Pet retailers have a unique opportunity to help educate customers on why functional nutrition can look different from family to family when it comes to their pets. Increased variety means more choices for the pet parent and more personalized nutritional options for the pet. With the growing demand for cans and multi-use products, including raw and frozen diets, retailers have more chances than ever before to expand the center of the plate mentality to extend past kibble in a variety of price points. Canned and fresh-frozen diets offer their own set of nutritional benefits and, when chosen and combined with a nutritionally balanced kibble diet, they can create an exceptionally palatable mealtime experience.

As a brand, we’ve understood for some time the growing demand for multi-use products and variety. In 2024, Fromm launched a completely new product category with Bonnihill Farms. Available in three hearty varieties, the fresh-frozen recipes feature top-quality meats as well as produce locally sourced in the Midwest. The recipes are cooked with a simple and innovative, sous-vide cooking method that uses a lower cooking temperature compared to traditional pet foods, to maximize nutrient retention and enhance flavor. Flash-frozen to maintain freshness, these entrees offer complete and balanced nutrition and are extremely palatable with higher water content, satisfying taste and helping to promote satiety. Bonnihill Farms recipes are manufactured in a purpose-built addition to the Fromm plant to allow us to maintain total control of the entire manufacturing process.

We are often asked by retailers how fresh, frozen, or canned diets can be better sold at retail. And this is a legitimate question. Kibble has been the most widely used and trusted source of nutrition for generations. It’s also much more cost-effective for shoppers who need to balance quality and price. When we think about how variety and innovations of products fit into the mealtime hierarchy, we consider how to build the best bowl with a good base and healthy building blocks. By focusing on a solid foundation (like a nutritionally complete and balanced kibble diet) and enhancing with textures, flavors, and formats, a pet parent can build a meal centered around nutrition first and foremost.

Here are some selling tips we like to focus on when we approach the idea of these variety-driven products like Bonnihill Farms and beyond:

Be realistic about choices: With the much higher price point of raw, fresh, and frozen diets there’s a very small niche of clientele that may have the means or preference to feed these diets exclusively. By taking a reasonable approach, we focus less on this idea of feeding the “ultimate” meal daily and more on an excellent option for variety at mealtime.

Talk about benefits: Fresh, frozen, and even canned diets that are complete and balanced offer increased hydration, palatability, and typically digestibility. These are excellent selling points and can tip the scales for a pet parent with a dog who may have a picky palate or require some extra incentive, hydration, or added excitement at mealtime.

Talk about where it’s made: Packaging labels typically state if the product is manufactured by or for a certain brand. Choosing brands with a history of trust and a reputation for quality and safety will better serve the pet parent and their pet. And, as a retailer, helping identify trustworthy brands and offer better recommendations will often yield stronger relationships based on trust between the store and the shopper.

It’s an exciting time in the pet food category. Trends, buying preferences and a more connected world have challenged all brands to be better, do more, and incorporate innovation and variety into how they approach nutrition. Fresh and frozen diets are one part of a growing trend for nutritional diversity and retailers play a vital role in how customers can learn and incorporate new products into a balanced diet or regimen for their pets.

 

Danielle Opetz is the Doctor of Animal Nutrition at Fromm Family Foods. She holds a doctorate in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign as well as a Bachelor of Science with a Zoology emphasis and an advanced degree in Animal Science.