PRODUCT MERCHANDISER FOCUS
Treat Them With Love
The dog treats and chews categories are bursting with new flavors
and formats that are sure to please every owner and pet.
BY HILARY DANINHIRSCH
Treats and chews are the stuff of dreams for dogs. They can serve training and functional purposes, be a reward for good behavior, or
just a way to say ‘I love you’ to man’s
While there is no shortage of treats
on the market, many pet owners today
value quality over quantity. In fact,
manufacturers and retailers agree that
all-natural, limited-ingredient and
protein-rich treats are topping the
“Our research suggests that choos-
ing natural products with easily un-
derstood, whole-food ingredients will
continue to be a huge selling point for
customers,” said Tim Fabits, vice pres-
ident of sales at Redbarn Pet Products
in Long Beach, Calif. “In addition,
ingredients that serve specific func-
tions to aid in pet health needs will be
Key ingredients known for their
health benefits may indeed be on con-
sumers’ radar, yet sometimes, less is more.
“The more ingredients you start tacking on to food products, the higher the risk for complications from the various
ingredients,” said Lori Fouts, vice president of sales management at MiracleCorp in Dayton, Ohio.
Another significant trend driving sales is the humanization of pets. Health-focused shoppers often want their pets
to eat as well as they do.
“In treats and chews, this means interest in non-GMO
ingredients, clean ingredient labels, natural products and
specific diet issues such as gluten free,” said Derek J. Archambault, director of marketing for FoodScience Corp. in
Essex Junction, Vt., adding that, because customers seek
convenience, pet supplements in a chew format are becoming popular.
Laura Jones Lang, president of Jones Natural Chews
based in Rockford, Ill., pointed out that dog treats that are
made in the USA also are extremely popular with pet owners, because consumers often infer a great deal from this
distinction, including a sense of confidence in the safety of
Also trending are alternatives to many of the traditional
products that have been on the market for decades.
“As far as chews go, many companies are trying to break
into the ‘rawhide alternative’ market,” said Samantha Hen-
son, clinical pet nutritionist at Premier Pet Supply in Beverly
Hills, Mich. “Earth Animal’s No-Hide Chews have been ex-
tremely popular here; they are easy to digest and well loved
by even picky dogs.”
Henson added that marrow and rib bones do well, as
well as raw, meaty bones, while bully sticks and antlers re-
main bestsellers; freeze-dried treats are also popular.
Other trends to watch include long-lasting chews and
animal body parts, such as horns and antlers, said Jusak
Yang Bernhard, co-owner of TailsSpin Pet Food & Accessories, which has stores in Georgia. He added that functional treats addressing skin and coat, digestion, calming, and
joint health are on the rise.
TREAT THEM TO WHAT’S NEW
Variety is spicing up the dog treats category these days, as manufacturers continue to develop new flavors and formats. From lip-smacking flavors inspired by human taste preferences to
treats boasting functional ingredients, there is something for every dog.
Long Beach, Calif.-based Redbarn Pet Products recently introduced three flavors of
Redbarn Bully Slices: Peanut Butter, French Toast and Vanilla coatings for these all-natural,
grain-free rectangular pieces of beef ear and hide.
In addition to adding some combination proteins in its bully sticks, Jones Natural Chews,
based in Rockford, Ill., has released the Frank N Woofer, a chicken sausage wrapped in a beef
patty, a high-protein treat.
Meanwhile, just in time for the holidays, Plato Pet Treats in Fresno, Calif., released a
seasonal gift pack, featuring its Farmer’s Market, Small Bites and EOS lines.
At SuperZoo in Las Vegas this year, MiracleCorp of Dayton, Ohio, debuted its all-natural Stewart Pro-Treat Freeze Dried Chicken Breast treats for dogs.
“They are fresh, single-ingredient treats that are conveniently freeze dried and diced into
reward-sized treats,” said Lori Fouts, vice president of sales management.
Retailers always are on the lookout for new treats that capitalize on the latest health
“With the use of cannabidiol oil on the rise, we have recently brought in Pet Releaf’s
Edibites,” said Samantha Henson, clinical pet nutritionist with Premier Pet Supply in Beverly
Hills, Mich. “They are an incredible treat for dogs with chronic pain, arthritis, anxiety and a
variety of other issues as well.”
Freeze-dried treats also are big this year, including products from Primal, Stella & Chewy’s,
Sojos and Pure Treats, said Jusak Yang Bernhard, co-owner of TailsSpin Pet Food & Accesso-
ries, which has stores in Georgia.
Janene Zakrajsek, co-owner of Pussy & Pooch Pethouse and Pawbar, which has stores in
Southern California, has had great success with crocodile bones from Barkworthies, which
she said are a great alternative to traditional pork, beef and chicken treats.
“They are naturally high in glucosamine, chondroitin and antioxidants, and dogs are loving
them,” she said.
Zakrajsek also has high hopes for the newest release from Bixbi: Bark Pops. They’re
crunchy puffs in three flavors made from beans, rice and sorghum, which she calls “a total
differentiator in the pet treat category.”