FREEZERS ARE A MUST
Industry participants recommend displaying raw diets in
their own section, but some retailers find featuring the
frozen fare challenging. So retailers, manufacturers and
distributors are working together to bring attention to
frozen raw foods through freezer programs, said Tracey
Hatch-Rizzi, co-founder and vice president of Radagast Pet
Food Inc. in Portland, Ore.
“Many retailers are opting to place glass-door
merchandisers in their stores, which are visually appealing
[and] display the packaging very well,” she said. “Bright
lights and colorful packaging certainly attract the attention
of the customer, and it gives the customer the familiar
feeling of shopping in the frozen aisle in their local grocery.”
Kyle Frautnick, marketing director for Primal Pet Foods
in Fairfield, Calif., agreed.
“Make it interesting. Make it fun. Have a point of view.
And feature the freezer,” he said, adding that “the future of
raw is in the freezer.”
For years, A Natural Pet Pantry in Osprey, Fla., had plain
white freezers on the sales floor.
“But people didn’t really plunder through and look at
product,” said Michelle McConnell, co-owner of A Natural
Pet Pantry. “Glass-front freezers were a great investment;
people see the product and ask.”
Newer freezers typically feature more storage capacity,
which allows for less restocking, said Bette Schubert,
co-founder and senior vice president of sales for Bravo Pet
Foods in Manchester, Conn.
Beyond freezers and displays, Schubert suggested
using social media to staying in touch with consumers and
tell them about the latest products offerings or trending
“It’s a great way to get customers into their store to
check out what’s new, or to attend in-store events,” she
Samples are one way that Tracy Alford, owner of Animal Nutrition & Grooming Center in Roseville, Calif., entices
customers to try raw foods.
“In addition, we run some kind of promo that incorporates raw into the deal,” she said. “Other times, we will slip
in a brochure or ask if they need anything else, like a raw
bone for their dog as a treat.”
The top things customers look for in raw diets, according to retailers, are palatability, complete
and balanced nutrition, reliable/quality sourcing and variety in protein. Manufacturers are listening, as evidenced by the latest releases in the raw category.
Several companies added protein options to their lines this year. Radagast Pet Food Inc. in
Portland, Ore., started the year off by debuting its Natural Pork Recipe.
“We always encourage customers to rotate proteins in their cats’ diet to help prevent food
sensitivities,” said Tracey Hatch-Rizzi, co-founder and vice president. “We have reliable, consis-
tent sourcing for natural pork that is free from antibiotics, hormones or growth promotants.”
To celebrate its 12 years on the market, the company debuted refreshed packaging this
summer for the entire Rad Cat line of raw frozen cat food.
In April, Primal Pet Foods in Fairfield, Calif., added Rabbit in both canine and feline Freeze-Dried Formula lines as well as a feline Duck Formula. The company introduced 3-pound Feline
Duck Frozen Formula Nuggets to its freezer assortment.
“Our raw frozen formulas are species-appropriate complete and balanced diets for dogs and
cats,” said Kyle Frautnick, marketing director.
Minneapolis-based Sojos launched its second shelf-stable, raw life-stage formula at SuperZoo in Las Vegas in July.
“Like Sojos for Puppies, new Sojos Complete for Seniors [is] blended to target a variety of
age-related benefits,” said Jen Loesch, general manager.
CONVERSATIONS FACILITATE EDUCATION
Education is an essential part of selling and feeding a raw diet, according to
retailers and manufacturers, and customers rely on store staff to counsel them on
“In terms of educating consumers, it is critical for the retailer and sales staff
to be as educated as possible so they can pass along what they know,” said Bette
Schubert, co-founder and senior vice president of sales for Bravo Pet Foods in
Manchester, Conn. “The sales team needs to talk knowingly about the features and
benefits of a raw product and be able to distinguish between the various brands’
choices in order to be successful in terms of gaining sales as well as building custom-
er trust and loyalty.”
Tracey Hatch-Rizzi, co-founder and vice president of Radagast Pet Food Inc. in
Portland, Ore., agreed, adding that “the more the store employees know, the more
they can inform their customers.”
“Mass marketing only goes so far,” she said. “It’s the one-on-one interactions
with customers that make the greatest impact.”
Those new to the category especially need guidance and education, said industry
participants. And for consumers making the leap from kibble or canned to alterna-
tives such as raw, it can be intimidating, said Jen Loesch, general manager of Sojos in
Both Diane Dewberry, owner of The Healthy Animal in Pembroke, Mass.,
and Tracy Alford, owner of Animal Nutrition & Grooming Center in Roseville,
Calif., find people have received a lot of misinformation, including from their
“The FDA tells everyone that raw is bad because there are pathogens, and vets
are not taught about raw species-appropriate diets, so people are hearing wrong
information from their vets,” Alford said, adding that resource materials, brochures
and websites help with the conversation.
Dewberry said it would be best if retailers walked customers through the steps of
feeding a raw diet.
“The conventional vet is all over them saying you can’t feed that, so a big part
of the discussion when they come in here is about the raw,” she said. “At least 85
percent of people need to have a little bit of education.”
“Concerned pet parents are hyper-focused on nutrition as
the key to whole body health and longevity. Raw food has
become an important part of this movement.”
—Jen Loesch of Sojos
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