NEW TO THE CATEGORY
As consumer awareness continues to grow, manufacturers are
responding to demand.
Redbarn Pet Products in Long Beach, Calif., recently
introduced two new lines of grain-free dog foods: all-natural,
grain-free canned pâté and canned stews, said Tim Fabits, vice
president of sales.
The canned pâté formulas feature beef, chicken, lamb,
ocean fish, duck and turkey protein choices with added functional ingredients to support common canine health issues,
including immune support, weight control, and skin and joint
health, Fabits said.
Redbarn’s grain-free canned stews come in Beef Stew,
Chicken Stew, Lamb Stew, Turkey Stew, and Steak and Egg Stew
formulas, which all come with garden vegetables in a delectable
gravy, he added.
New Canine Cafe 100 percent grain-free canned foods offer
both pâté-style dinners and stewlike fricassees, said Bette Schubert,
co-founder and senior vice president of sales, new product development and education for Bravo Pet Foods in Manchester, Conn.
New grain-free offerings from Frenchie’s Kitchen include a White
Fish and Veggies Entree and Tasty Toppers for Dogs Turkey & Veggie
Stew and Chicken & Veggie Stew, said Sara Kuris-Morgan, founder
and CEO of Frenchie’s Kitchen in Corpus Christi, Texas.
“The entrees are an ideal choice for the pet parent looking
for a grain-free, whole-foods based diet,” Kuris-Morgan said.
“The stews are a great option for customers with larger dogs or
multiple dogs who are feeding a grain-free kibble and want to add
in some fresh, whole-food ingredients to this diet.”
This year, Caru Pet Food will announce additional flavors
of natural dog stews, all of which will be grain free, said Adrian
Pettyan, CEO and co-founder of the Vero Beach, Fla., company.
Fromm Family Foods is debuting its Four-Star Nutritionals
Hasen Duckenpfeffer for dogs, a grain-free recipe inspired by the
traditional German rabbit stew, said Bryan Nieman, brand director
of the Mequon, Wis., company.
Two new formulas recently have joined the Taste of the Wild
line of products. Appalachian Valley and Pine Forest both contain
venison as the main protein, providing dog owners with another
option for pets with protein sensitivities, said John Kampeter,
“Appalachian Valley is the first Taste of the Wild formula
developed specifically for small breed dogs that sometimes can
be finicky eaters,” Kampeter said. “[It offers] a smaller kibble size
to aid with chewing and digestion.”
Canine Caviar now offers Open Range Holistic Grain Free En-
trée for All Life Stages for dogs, a buffalo-based, limited ingredient
diet, said Jeff Baker, owner of the Norco, Calif., company.
“We also have grain-free cans being released [this year] made
with goat, kangaroo, brush tail, unagi, chicken, lamb and salmon,”
Baker said. “These foods are meat only and can be used for both
dogs and cats.”
Going for Grain Free
Proper food selection is one of the most important decisions an owner can
make for the health of their pet, said John Kampeter, director of marketing
for Taste of the Wild in Meta, Mo.
For this reason, informed, educated employees are critical to ensuring a
good in-store experience for pet owners.
“It’s key to remember that the veterinarian and the pet retailer are
often the first line of information for pet owners,” Kampeter said.
But imparting and sharing that expertise begins with listening, said
Adrian Pettyan, CEO and co-founder of Caru Pet Food in Vero Beach, Fla.
“In order to confidently recommend the right pet diet to a prospective customer, understanding the health, nutritional or behavioral issues
being addressed is crucial,” Pettyan said.
Customer education begins with well-informed sales associates,
said Biff Picone, co-owner of Natural Pawz, which has multiple locations Texas.
“We ensure that our associates are able to recognize signs of grain
allergies in pets and explain the difference a grain-free diet will make,”
Tutelage for employees at TailsSpin Pet Food & Accessories, which
has stores in Georgia, includes workshops conducted by local veterinarians, and manufacturer and distributor representatives, as well as online
courses, such as Pet Store Pro, said Jusak Yang Bernhard, co-owner.
Reaching out to the community, TailsSpin provides nutritional education by conducting speaking and workshop engagements in partnership
with local organizations, schools and other gatherings, Bernhard said.
“Enhancing our customers’ understanding of pet nutrition is a vital
part of our customer service at TailsSpin,” he said.
Manufacturers reported that they and their sales teams strive to
assist retailers in this process.
“For retailers, we recently initiated a new portal that offers news
and information to be used in-store and for customer communications,”
“We believe this easy-to-use format will help retailers better educate
pet owners,” he added.
When shoppers are cognizant of the key differences between grain-
free diets and the products they currently might be serving their pets,
Today’s pet owners are much more informed in general thanks to the wealth of in-
formation at their fingertips via the Internet and social media. This easy-to-access
knowledge, combined with discerning consumer tastes and demands, challenge
brands to continually innovate and provide variety and premium nutrition, said
Bryan Nieman, brand director for Mequon, Wis.-based Fromm Family Foods.
Consumers are seeking made in the USA, natural and grain-free food selections,
said Tim Fabits, vice president of sales for Redbarn Pet Products in Long Beach, Calif.
When they first were introduced, grain-free foods were considered a
marketing trend, said Adrian Pettyan, CEO and co-founder of Caru Pet Food in
Vero Beach, Fla.
“In 2007, however, grain free moved into the mainstream marketplace after
thousands of pets become ill from a melamine contamination,” Pettyan said.
Today, many consumers associate a grain-free diet with premium or
ultrapremium ingredients, a driving force in the sale of natural pet foods,
“We sell more of these foods than those with grain,” said Biff Picone,
co-owner of Natural Pawz, which has multiple locations in Texas.
The benefit of grain-free food is evident as large commercial pet food
brands introduce these products in response to consumer preference, said
Bette Schubert, co-founder and senior vice president of sales, new product
development and education for Manchester, Conn.-based Bravo Pet Foods.
“A few years ago you wouldn’t see that claim on a commercial brand’s
package—now it is there on the front panel in large type,” Schubert said.
GRAIN FREE MOVES
INTO THE MAINSTREAM
MIRACLECORP’S Hamilton Neon Collection features adjustable and buckle
collars, harnesses and leashes in electric hues. It is available in neon coral,
yellow, blue and red to complement any coat and keep dogs noticed. The
collection contains collars and harnesses for extra small, small, medium and
large dogs and leashes in two convenient length and width options.
gy,” said Kampeter. “Vegeta-
bles, especially peas and other
legumes, are easily digestible
and naturally lower in sugar,
and many dogs will thrive on
such a food.”
Allergy issues might be the
most important factor motivat-
ing pet owners to embrace grain
free, Kuris-Morgan said. Often,
once the switch to grain free is
made, problems lessen signifi-
cantly or resolve totally.
“Grain-free foods are a nice
starting point for pets that may
have had issues with grain-inclusive recipes in the past or
for pets experiencing specific
allergies,” said Bryan Nieman,
brand director for Fromm Family Foods in Mequon, Wis.
Biff Picone, co-owner of Natural Pawz, which has multiple
locations in Texas, said that grain
free is recommended when grain
allergies are suspected.
“We have found that promoting a grain-free diet is an easy
first step for pet owners to isolate grains as a possible source
of pet allergies, and it makes it
easier for them to comprehend
the importance of ingredients,”
said Jusak Yang Bernhard,
co-owner of TailsSpin Pet Food
& Accessories, which has stores
However, grain is not always
the culprit—instead, it is the fact
that the quality of the grains used
is low in many foods, adding no
nutritional value, Picone said.
“I don’t feel that all grains
are bad,” said Heidi Vanorse
Neal, owner of Loyal Biscuit Co.,
which has locations in Maine.
“We have had customers’ pets
do much better on a quality
grain-based diet than with a
grain free [one]. It all ultimately
comes down to what works best
for the dog.”
THE GREEN PET SHOP’S Bamboo Training Pads contain a
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Each pad holds over 3. 5 cups of liquid. Thanks to quick-dry
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durability and comfort.
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