Whole Foods for
from 80 JACQUII’S Woofmints is an all-natural
dog breath-freshening product. Created
to solve dog breath issues, the product
is completely safe for dogs, according to
the company. The gel capsules contain
parsley, peppermint oils and other
vegan, gluten-free ingredients. The gel
dissolves in the dog’s stomach, provid-
ing long-term fresh breath from within.
MERRICK PET CARE’S Lil’ Plates is a full line of grain-free dry
and wet recipes for small-breed dogs. The recipes contain
probiotics and prebiotic fiber for optimal digestion and
glucosamine and chondroitin for healthy joints. The small
kibble size of the dry recipes makes it easy for small-
breed dogs to pick up and chew. The wet recipes come in
convenient single servings. The recipes start with
real meat, fish or poultry
as the first ingredient for a
high-protein meal, and they
include farm-fresh fruits and
vegetables such as apples,
sweet potatoes, blueberries,
peas and more.
“The term … has vigorous
rules and regulations guaran-
teeing the quality and integrity
of the products,” Abrams said,
noting that customers are shift-
ing focus to even higher-quality
ingredients in their pets’ food.
Rashell Cooper, marketing di-
rector for Redbarn Pet Products
in Long Beach, Calif., agreed.
“Today’s consumers are demanding the following trends
in their pets’ food: made in the
USA, natural and grain free,”
she said. “When pet owners
spot these trends, they respond
are always appreciated due to
the abundance of pet owners
looking to avoid chicken.”
Another buzzword in the nat-
ural dog and cat food category is
“organic,” and customers should
understand how a food earns the
right to use that word on its la-
bel, said Shawna Abrams, presi-
dent of Party Animal Pet Food in
West Hollywood, Calif.
PARAGON PET PRODUCTS offers the
CONSUMER EDUCATION IN
NATURAL PET FOODS
Whimzees Variety Value Box. The
boxes come with small, medium or large
chews. Each container contains a variety
of Alligators, Hedgehogs, Toothbrushes
and Stix. The dental chews are natural,
limited ingredient, vegetarian and highly
digestible. The fun and functional knobby designs create a desirable texture for
chewing and are designed to support
THE BRAMTON CO. presents Vet’s Best Soft Chews. Each of the seven supplements, which are made with natural ingredients and come in veterinarian-rec-ommended doses, offers different health benefits. In addition, they all contain
antioxidants to fight stress and bolster the immune system, plus prebiotics to aid in
digestion, the company reports. The tasty chews can be fed like a daily treat. Formulas include Advanced Hip & Joint, Proactive Hip & Joint, Comfort Calm, Multivitamin,
Probiotics, Seasonal Allergy and Skin & Coat.
Many of today’s pet owners are quite savvy about their animals’ nutritional needs,
doing research online and asking cognizant questions about the ingredients in the
foods lining store shelves. Not every customer, however, shares the same depth
of knowledge, and that’s when informed employees can introduce the benefits of
natural dog and cat foods.
“When sharing information to educate customers, we find the best way is to
build trust by listening closely to what the customer is saying—and not saying,”
said Shane Somerville, co-owner of Paddywack in Mill Creek, Wash., emphasizing the
need to remain respectful and approachable. “When someone asks, ‘Do you carry
Brand X not-so-great pet food,’ instead of saying, ‘No, our foods are all high-quality
foods and that isn’t,’ I prefer to say, ‘We don’t carry that food; may I tell you why?’”
Well-informed employees are key for retailers when it comes to natural pet food,
especially in a market where people can buy almost anything online.
“With education, retailers are able to offer something an online store can’t: a
face-to-face experience allowing them to build relationships with their customers,”
said Shawna Abrams, president of Party Animal Pet Food in West Hollywood, Calif.
Nothing beats conversation with customers, said Andrew Kim, founder and CEO
of the Healthy Spot chain of stores in Southern California.
“We work with the client to find the best solution specific to their needs,” he
said. “Simply checking ingredients is no longer sufficient to determine what makes a
good food. This is why we believe we have been successful partnering with customers to find the best solution specific to them.”
WELLPET offers Wellness TruFood Meal
Complements for cats and dogs. The
products are free of grains and fillers as
well as artificial preservatives, colors
and flavors. The meal complements are
packaged in fresh, single-serve pouches and
make the perfect natural appetizer, snack or
meal topper. They’re made with whole-prey
proteins, and each recipe contains just five
Chris Meiering, director of innovation for Durango, Colo.-based Zuke’s, agreed.
“We encourage our retailers to have an open dialogue with their customers,
helping them to understand how to make the best decisions for their dog’s diet and
health,” Meiering said.
PET FOOD DISPLAY
“Many of our customers ask for foods by name, or look for a
particular label,” said Amanda Lee, store associate. “They appreci-
ate it when they can find it quickly and easily.”
“There are only so many ways to display your foods,” said Shane
Somerville displays new brands and store favorites near the
front of the store and moves “the foods we are less excited about
(or trying to downsize) back to our ‘corner of death,’” she said.
“We also have consolidated our canned food into one section …
This allows customers already buying canned food to see what
other great choices are out there.”
Somerville, co-owner of Paddywack in Mill Creek, Wash.
Still, using common sense when grouping natural dog and cat
foods can make the shopping experience easier for the customer
and the selling experience easier for the retailer.
“Using an endcap, featuring natural diets as a product of the
month and moving natural diets to the front of the store all aid pet
specialty retailers with innovative merchandising,” said Rashell
Cooper, marketing director for Redbarn Pet Products in Long
She also suggested using different sections of the store to
highlight different diet types.
At Horizon Pet Supply in Wildomar, Calif., natural dog and cat
foods are displayed by type, with all canned foods placed together
and all dry foods together. Wherever possible, similar ingredient
types are placed near each other, though the store keeps diets
from the same manufacturer grouped together.