EDUCATING CONSUMERS ON
RAW CAT FOOD
Raw is one of those categories for which consumers tend to have a lot of questions.
Matt Koss, president of Primal Pet Foods Inc. in Fairfield, Calif., said that pet owners
new to the category often need significant guidance and education about the
mechanics and benefits of feeding raw to their pets.
“A better understanding and true commitment to feeding raw is best achieved
through direct experience,” Koss said. “Thus Primal invests heavily in educating our
retail partners as well as their staff. Many successful transitions start from a sales
Tracey Hatch-Rizzi, vice president and co-founder of Radagast Pet Food Inc. in
Portland, Ore., agreed that a majority of pet owners receive their education through
the retailer; therefore, it is incredibly important that store employees are knowledge-
able about the products.
“Many pet parents think that all raw cat foods are mostly the same, but that
couldn’t be further from the truth,” Hatch-Rizzi said. “It really helps for store employ-
ees to understand the differences between brands and to be able to help customers
find a raw food that fits their cat’s needs best.”
In addition to questions, it’s not uncommon for consumers to express concerns.
Darrell Perkins, co-owner of Fin & Feather Pet Center in Richmond, Va., said that
his customers sometimes have concerns about salmonella or other bacteria. Since
receiving some negative press as a result of the American Veterinary Medical Association and U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s stance on feeding raw, concerns about
pathogens are the biggest worry, Perkins said.
“Education is really critical in this category,” Perkins said. “It’s important
that staff is knowledgeable, as consumers do have a lot of questions—mostly
Alison Schwartz, manager of All Pets Considered in Greensboro, N.C., agreed, and
added that misinformation is prevalent when it comes to understanding a raw diet.
Her staff works to educate consumers about how pets digest bacteria and are much
better built to handle it than humans. Aside from safety concerns, most of the other
questions her staff receives are about how to make the transition. In order to guide
consumers, retailers must first be educated themselves, she said.
Ward Johnson, co-founder of Sojos in Minneapolis, said that while making the
leap can be intimidating, if cat owners are worried about frozen raw, then freeze-dried might make for an easier
“Pet specialty retailers
should be ready to explain that
freeze-dried alternatives combine
the shelf-stable convenience
of customers’ current kibble or
canned foods with the superior
nutrition of raw,” Johnson said.
“And while they’re at it, remind
consumers that shelf-stable raw
treats can provide many of the
same nutritional benefits.”
Consumers might consider
freeze-dried foods to be a pricey
option, but Johnson noted that
because the pet owner isn’t paying
for water, freeze-dried foods
actually are quite affordable.
HOW CAN RETAILERS DRIVE TRAFFIC TO THE FREEZER SECTION?
“Put some empty packages in the dry food section with a note that directs them to the freezer
to pick it up. If a cat owner has been buying dry
kibble for their pet’s entire life, they probably
just head right to the dry food section. Seeing a
raw food package could at least put the idea in
their head that there’s more out there to choose
from.”—DARRELL PERKINS, co-owner of Fin &
Feather Pet Center in Richmond, Va.
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