This year, a plethora of superpremium
diets have debuted on the market.
Rawbble dry food from Bixbi Pet in
Boulder, Colo., uses fresh meats, and the
formulas do not include powdered meat
meals, potatoes or rice, according to the
company. Rawbble wet foods have 95 to
97 percent single-source meat, liver and
broth, and do not contain carrageenan or
other gums. All of the limited-ingredient
diets are also grain free.
Do Only Good Pet Nutrition in Westlake
Village, Calif., recently introduced a line of
single-protein foods that offers customers
the chance to rotate their pets’ protein
sources, said company officials. The
line provides variety to the diet—beef,
chicken, turkey, fish and lamb—without
some of the digestive issues commonly
associated with switching foods or
proteins, officials added.
In addition, Health Extension in Deer
Park, N. Y., launched canned recipes for
dogs that are both GMO and grain free.
They include four flavors: Northern Catch,
Tuscan Style Quail, Italian Feast Venison
and New York Style Beef. Four additional
GMO and grain-free recipes for dogs are
also coming soon and will include: French
Bistro (rabbit), Carolina Skillet (pork),
Montana Grill (buffalo and whitefish) and
Mediterranean Roast (lamb), according to
PIQUING INTEREST IN SUPERPREMIUM DIETS
Attracting attention through displays is a valuable way to draw more
interest to the superpremium diet category. Brad Gruber, president of Health
Extension in Deer Park, N. Y., said that separating superpremium brands
helps to lessen the initial confusion for consumers when they first walk
down the dog food aisle.
“Signage should be used to call out the distinct shopping areas of food
offerings,” he added. “Dialing down past that, categorizing the shelf by
‘original,’ ‘grain free,’ and ‘specialty’ and ‘functional’ foods also enables
the consumer to shop based on specific needs. This makes the shopping
experience less frustrating.”
Displays can also be incredibly useful in furthering the effort to educate.
At Puppy Love Dog Store in Beaumont, Texas, owner Patti Vincent uses a
table to display foods of varying quality with a sign that reads: “What’s in
your dog food?”
“We have the actual bags of dog food on that table with an enlarged
ingredient list for each bag,” Vincent said. “Some of the major brands don’t
even include a real meat source. Customers are always surprised to see in
black and white that the first ingredient is not a protein. It’s a good starting
conversation on what byproducts mean and that corn, soy and wheat can
trigger allergies and inflammation.”
At Odyssey Pets in Dallas, all of the store’s offerings could be classified
as superpremium foods. Even so, co-owner Sherry Redwine said that
having displays that entice customers to check out the food selection is
beneficial, as food is not the only reason people stop in.
“We use wire baker’s racks and have the entire back wall lined with
freezers for raw food,” Redwine said. “We added three freezers in the past
year due to the growth in that category. For new foods that we bring in, we
usually run a special and create a display at the front to bring attention to
Odyssey Pets in Dallas uses baker’s racks to en-
tice shoppers to browse the superpremium dog
food sections, said co-owner Sherry Redwine.
FEED THEM FACTS
Some pet specialty retailers find that their customers intend to feed their
pets quality foods, but they often need extra guidance to find what is right
for their pet.
“There has been a lot of misleading information out there, and consumers
often just need some direction about what to do,” said Sue Green, co-owner
of The Whole Cat & Dogs, Too in Denver. “The best way to educate is with
a conversation. More often than not, we find that dog parents have a lot of
questions about what they’re feeding their animal.”
Green added that it is admittedly challenging to know where to turn when
there are so many mixed messages out there.
Karen Neola, founder of My Perfect Pet in Poway, Calif., agreed.
“Pet owners are bombarded with claims from all pet food manufacturers
that their products are superior,” Neola said. “Consumers are challenged with
determining which are legitimate or even relevant to their pet’s health. But
retailers can help their customers make healthier choices by encouraging
them to look beyond the price tag and the hype and to consider quality
and health benefits of ingredients, processes used and the integrity of the
manufacturer in their buying decisions. This is great for retailers because they
can form long-term relationships with their customers by assisting them.”
Todd Rowan, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Bixbi Pet in
Boulder, Colo., said it’s important for store employees to understand the value
of superpremium diets themselves.
“Independent pet store employees are a great resource for consumers
who need advice,” Rowan said. “But the collective industry marketing dollars
spent on traditional foods made with traditional ingredients can sway even the
most educated store employee. We hope consumers and retailers keep asking
questions, because ingredient ‘realities’ eventually come out.”
Pet specialty retailers are in a unique position as they can often take
the opportunity to gain the trust of their shoppers through one-on-one
“So much of what consumers believe about food comes from word-of-mouth from other dog parents or from vet recommendations,” said Rick Pack,
founder of Do Only Good Pet Nutrition in Westlake Village, Calif. “Building trust
is an important element in terms of educating consumers. Many brands focus
on data and facts, and that’s important, as long as you can also build trust.”
“Pet parents are starting
to realize that daily diet is
critical for animal health.
—Todd Rowan of Bixbi Pet
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