The growing presence of raw frozen and shelf-stable diets is
clear evidence that the category is emerging as a full-fledged
alternative to traditional kibble and canned foods, said Ward
Johnson, co-founder of Sojos in Minneapolis.
“I’m happy to say that raw foods are well on their way
from niche to mainstream,” Johnson said. “That growth is
reflected on the shelves of pet specialty stores.”
Fifteen years ago, few pet retailers offered raw food, and
many consumers were unaware of this option, said Justin
Magnuson, vice president of sales and marketing for Raw
Bistro Pet Fare in Cannon Falls, Minn.
“Raw actually has become a category,” Magnuson said.
“Today, it’s rare to walk into a store that does not have at least
one freezer, and many stores are upgrading to glass-front
freezers to better merchandise their raw products.”
At Anaheim Feed & Pet Supply in Anaheim, Calif., assistant
manager Chelsea Cassidy noted growth in the category over
the past five years, adding that the expansion coincides with
increasing consumer awareness of the contribution of food to
“Five years ago, Anaheim Feed & Pet Supply had one big
freezer for raw foods,” Cassidy said. “Since then, we’ve added
small freezers at the registers and in the treats aisle and are
adding another 8-foot-wide freezer due to high demand.”
Located in northern Michigan, Pets Naturally hasn’t
seen the same variety of food offerings compared to other
regions, said Andrea Margelis, manager of the Traverse City,
Mich., store; however, more raw diet choices are entering the
“Raw diet companies are also expanding their lines to
provide more novel proteins and revamp their diets to contain
less allergens,” Margelis said. “We are also seeing more com-
panies offering freeze dried and dehydrated options.”
Biff Picone, co-owner of Natural Pawz, which has several
stores in Texas, agreed, adding that many consumers are
considering freeze dried and dehydrated as an alternative.
“People want to feed less processed but are concerned
about the recalls, and many veterinarians are concerned
about raw,” Picone said. “For us, it is very important to carry
products that have food safety in mind.”
THE RAW CATEGORY EXPANDS RAW FOOD MARKETING 101
When it comes to marketing raw foods, education and expertise play a strong role.
“We keep our consumers informed by being informed ourselves,” said Andrea Marge-
lis, manager of Pets Naturally in Traverse City, Mich. “We also display brochures outlining
the different raw diets that are available.”
In collaborating with other professionals, the instructional component is expanded,
“We have been extremely fortunate to partner with a local holistic veterinarian to provide our consumers with in-store, educational seminars regarding nutrition, acupuncture
and Chinese medicine,” Margelis said.
Manufacturers also call on experts to provide information, said Justin Magnuson, vice
president of sales and marketing for Raw Bistro Pet Fare in Cannon Falls, Minn.
“We work closely with top holistic veterinarian Dr. Karen Becker and canine nutritionist Steve Brown to formulate our products, and present seminars to retailers and
consumers,” Magnuson said.
Offering samples also serves to get the word out.
“Frankly, nothing beats sampling,” said Ward Johnson, co-founder of Sojos in Minne-
apolis. “Once a pet parent sees their pal dive into his food with an excitement like never
before, they’re much more likely to take home a bag, and from there, they quickly discover
the long-term health benefits that lead to ongoing customer loyalty.”
Retailers stocking raw foods note that word-of-mouth is a strong marketing tool.
“We often have new customers call first to see if we are carrying raw foods and then
come in to make a purchase,” said Chelsea Cassidy, assistant manager at Anaheim Feed
& Pet Supply in Anaheim, Calif. “Our raw food has increased about 25 percent in sales over
the past two or three years.”
© Copyright 2016, Caitec Corporation
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