Taking Pet Food
to the Next Level
Following human food trends, organic and ethically sourced dog food is gaining
traction with many consumers.
BY LIZE TT BOND
On the human food front, “organic,” “ethical” and “sustainable” are familiar terms these days, and as with many developments in the two;legged sector, the demand is filtering down to nutritional selections for pets.
More and more, consumers expect the same transparency and
sustainable, organic ingredients in the manufacturing process of
pet foods as in their own diets, said Annabelle Immega, trade marketing manager for Petcurean Pet Nutrition in Chilliwack, British
“Consumers want to know their purchases are doing a good thing,
are seeking food choices to align with those values and are driving
the trend to healthier, more natural foods,” said Isaac Langleben,
co-founder of Open Farm in Toronto.
Educated pet owners tend to be socially conscious as well as nutritionally aware, said Stephanie Volo, vice president of brand and
communications for Earth Animal in Southport, Conn.
“These consumers want the livestock contributing to the health
of their companion animals to have been well treated and humanely
raised during their lives,” she added. “They also understand that organic produce is free of chemicals that may impact good health over time.”
Sherry Redwine, co-owner of Odyssey Pets in Dallas, agreed that
this shift in insight is following that of the human market.
;A shopper at ;hole ;oods, for instance, will find sustainably har-
vested and humane products, and we see that call pouring over into
the pet market,” Redwine said. “As demand goes up, we hope more
farms will become ethical.”
As consumers, millennial pet owners are e;erting a strong in;u-
ence in the pet industry, and causes are important to their everyday
lives, said Jusak Yang Bernhard, co-owner of TailsSpin Pet Stuff,
which has stores in Georgia.
;;illennials are definitely teaching other generations to pay atten-
tion to how pet foods are being manufactured,” he said. “‘Humane-
ly raised,’ ‘cage free,’ ‘antibiotic free,’ ‘hormone free,’ and ‘organic
protein sources and ingredients’ are increasingly important wordings
when bags are being labeled.”
Further, consumers have personally seen the positive changes in
the health of their animals when fed a biologically appropriate diet,
As this recognition intensifies, ;dyssey ;ets is seeing an increased
call for these foods, Redwine noted.
“We carry Open Farm and Smallbatch, and I am on the lookout to
bring in more brands of this type,” she said.
Redwine also said that while the term “humanely raised” is self-explanatory, “natural” and “organic” are often thought by many to be
“We sometimes have to explain the difference,” she said.
Manufacturers are heeding expanding consumer demand.
;Since introducing our certified organic, sustainably produced
Gather line of pet food late last year, we’ve seen interest intensify,”
Immega said. “We actually had to increase production sooner than
However, there are still long-held beliefs as to what constitutes an
adequate diet, which might require some pet owners to start thinking
differently, said Vanessa Quick, co-founder of Purpose Pet Food in
“We talk to so many owners whose dogs have become sick over
time from eating a diet that lacked nutrition or simply wasn’t appropriate for the species,” ;uick said. ;It;s sometimes difficult to think of
our pets as carnivores, but in the time that humans have domesticated
the canine, on the inside, they’re still more like wolves. Reframing
how we think of our pets’ biological needs is important.”
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