Multiple limited-ingredient diets hit the market for canine
companions in the past year, and many pet food companies
updated existing lineups to meet specific consumer demands.
Bixbi Pet in Boulder, Colo., launched its Rawbble food line
in dry, wet and freeze-dried formats. The diets contain fresh
meat and no meals, and recipes include Chicken, Duck, Lamb,
Beef, Pork, and Salmon and Chicken.
In mid-August, Merrick Pet Care in Amarillo, Texas,
unveiled its updated lineup of limited-ingredient-diet (LID)
dry and wet dog foods. The 10 recipes feature single-source
animal proteins and no potatoes, grains, or common allergens
such as gluten, dairy, eggs, corn, wheat and soy. Updated
recipes include Salmon, Lamb, Duck, Turkey, Chicken and
Ziwi USA in Overland Park, Kan., also added to its line of
limited-ingredient diets for dogs by introducing Ziwi Peak
Free-Range Chicken in air-dried and canned recipes. The air-dried recipe contains 96 percent meat, organs and bone, all
from New Zealand-sourced free-range chicken, and provides
natural glucosamine, chondroitin and omega- 3 fatty acids.
The canned recipes contain 92 percent free-range chicken
meat, organs and bone with less than 5 percent of chickpea
as a natural binder, said company officials, adding that several
LID product launches are scheduled for this year.
Champion Petfoods in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada,
reformulated its Acana Singles line, which includes two new
flavors: Beef & Pumpkin and Turkey & Greens. The revisions
contain more fresh meat protein, fewer carbohydrates and a
shortened ingredient panel, according to company officials.
LIMITED INGREDIENTS, INFINITE KNOWLEDGE
When dog owners visit independent pet specialty retailers in search of limited-ingredient diets (LIDs), they typically
need some guidance from educated staff, industry insiders reported.
“Consumers rely on pet specialty staff to help inform and guide them,” said Sharon Durham, marketing
communications manager for Ziwi USA in Overland Park, Kan. “So it’s important that the staff is well trained about
the LID products they sell.”
Insiders agreed that education is imperative for employees and customers alike.
“Education is critical, and really that’s why people come to stores like ours—all the independents out there—
because we take the time to learn about the product, and we can share it with the customer,” said Audree Berg,
owner of Auggie’s Pet Supplies in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. “It keeps us viable and them off the internet.”
While limited-ingredient diets generally have shorter ingredient panels, Julie S. Washington, chief marketing
officer at Champion Petfoods in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, said brands and retailers still need to help educate
clients on how to read an ingredient panel and nutrition label.
“Whether this is through communication at the shelf, floor staff training, online at retailer websites or at events
in the stores, it’s important to help customers understand the terms and descriptions provided on a product label
and how this information relates to their pet’s needs,” she said.
Educating staff and, ultimately, customers not only helps with sales, but also combats misinformation about pet
health, said Michael Levy, president and founder of Pet Food Express, a multistore chain in California.
“Only educated employees can really explain food strategy to a customer,” he said. “Without a strong education
policy in place for store employees, this can lead to misinformation and cause more problems for the pets. We put a
very large emphasis on training our employees throughout their time at [Pet Food Express].”
To educate employees, many stores bring in vendors and offer in-store training. To pass this education along to
customers, most insiders recommend conversations, utilizing the power of social media and hosting in-store events.
“Talk to your customers and ask questions,” Levy said. “Remember that training and customer interactions are
best for your customers and the best way for you to beat [online sellers] and the national chains.”
Tiana O’Neill, owner of Garden City Pet in Augusta, Ga., agreed.
“You have to know what’s going on with [the customer’s] pet and what they’ve tried before to get a baseline of
the options they can try, which means you must intimately know the composition of the foods you sell,” she said.
At Auggie’s Pet Supplies, Berg hosts food tastings and hands out samples. She also added televisions at
checkout on which she rotates videos every month with entertaining as well as educational items.
gies and intolerances from developing,” she said. “Feed-
ing a LID diet ensures that the pet is ingesting only the
intended proteins during each rotation.”
Beyond single-source animal proteins, industry insid-
ers have noticed that customers want the ingredients in
their pet’s food to be limited overall.
“We’re seeing people looking for really limited ingredients—not just the protein but the other ingredients
are specified and narrowed,” said Audree Berg, owner
of Auggie’s Pet Supplies in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. “People
looking for LID also want to restrict other things in the
diet, such as potato, peas, sunflower oil or salmon oil.”
Durham reported similar findings.
“Consumers are looking for shorter ingredient lists
and are moving away from diets that include multiple
meat protein sources and/or multiple sources of starch,”
And ingredient quality is significantly more import-
ant than the quantity, said Todd Rowan, senior vice
president of sales and marketing at Bixbi Pet in Boulder,
“For example, dog food that uses fresh meat instead
of meal powders is gaining traction faster than legacy products that use meals as their primary protein
source,” he said.
Consumers no longer consider over-processed ingredients, such as meal powders, nutritious, Rowan added.
“The whole-food trend for humans is carrying over
to pet,” he explained. “The term ‘clean food’ refers to
products low in heavy metals, simply processed, with
more bioavailability of their inherent nutrients. This idea
of cleanliness started a few years ago with the whole
food plant-based movement and is more broadly ap-
plied nowadays to a variety of categories for which nu-
trition is important.”
Competition and an overall trend toward simplicity
are key factors in the direction that limited-ingredient
diets for dogs are going, according to Michael Levy,
president and founder of Pet Food Express, a multistore
chain in California.
“We are seeing a lot more use of meat as the first
ingredient now as compared to the past where the carbs
tended to be the first ingredient,” he said. “This is being
influenced primarily by keeping things simple and easy
to understand, and competition between pet food manufacturers competing for this segment.”
“The whole-food trend for humans is carrying
over to pet. The term ‘clean food’ refers to products
low in heavy metals, simply processed, with more
bioavailability of their inherent nutrients. This
idea of cleanliness started a few years ago with
the whole food plant-based movement and is
more broadly applied nowadays to a variety of
categories for which nutrition is important.”
—Todd Rowan of Bixbi Pet