Diets Rich in Protein Fly High
Experts report growing interest in high-protein foods featuring unique and natural sources.
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Overall, professionals in the dog food category report increased cus- tomer curiosity in high-protein diets; sales are also on the rise. The reasons given for the uptick, however, vary.
“Sales are up,” said Lori Johnson, owner of Healthy Tails, which has
two stores in Reno, Nev. “I can only attribute it to pet owners being more
aware of the ingredients in the foods they’re giving their pets. There’s so
much information out there; customers coming in are more knowledgeable
and asking more questions when they come in.”
Eric Huston, marketing director for Mars Petcare U.S. in Franklin,
Tenn., agreed that consumer education plays a huge part in the segment’s
“As consumers continue to educate themselves on benefits of high-protein and grain-free diets for their pets, they will continue to seek out these
offerings in the marketplace,” he said.
A company spokesperson for Natural Balance Pet Foods in Burbank,
Calif., however, attributed the continued growth in high-protein dog foods
to owners’ desire for foods with real meat as the No. 1 ingredient and human food trends.
Leasa Greer, manager of nutrition for Solid Gold Pet in Chesterfield,
“As seen in many other segments of pet food, the interest in high-protein
diets for dogs has largely been driven and influenced by the trends in hu-
man food,” Greer said. “This is seen most recently in the popularity of paleo
and ketogenic diets. At the core of these diets is low carbohydrate intake
paired with high protein and fat in an effort to maintain an ideal weight and
promote optimal health.”
Of course, fewer veterinary bills and optimal canine health greatly con-
tribute to these food trends, experts said.
“Having the right amount of protein with the correct amino acid bal-
ance is what promotes good nutrition and ultimate wellness,” said James
Crouch, founder and CEO of Bixbi Pet in Boulder, Colo. “Balancing the
protein and amino acids with the fat and fatty acids, along with soluble
and insoluble fiber and vitamins and minerals, will lead to a lifetime of
Consumers at Petzlove in Lone Tree, Colo., “want to turn over the bag
and see foods they can relate to and that make sense to them,” said owner
Aidan Gannon. “Seeking ingredients they can understand naturally takes
them to more meat-based diets.”
And a return to nature remains relevant in dog food trends, sources said.
“The ancestral trend, which is rooted in a high-protein, meat-first diet,
is becoming a popular choice for many pet parents looking to cater to their
pet’s instinctual needs with a premium quality diet,” said Mark Fannin,
Crave brand manager at Mars Petcare U.S.
THE SKINNY ON WET AND DRY FORMULATIONS
Manufacturers are launching diets to meet consumer demand for
high-protein foods for dogs. In January, Mars Petcare U.S.’ Crave brand
introduced Adult Wet Dog Food with 99 percent of protein from animal
sources and real meat as the first ingredient, according to officials for
the Franklin, Tenn.-based company. Formulas include Beef Paté with
shreds of real chicken, Chicken Paté with shreds of real chicken, Turkey
& Lamb Paté with shreds of real chicken, Turkey Paté with shreds of real
chicken, Beef Paté, Chicken & Beef Paté, Chicken Paté and Turkey Paté.
This month, at Global Pet Expo in Orlando, Fla., Bixbi Pet plans
to unveil two new lines in its Rawbble food family: a “fresh meat,
no meals, affordable kibble and [a] complementary wet food
line containing at least 94 percent, single-source protein and no
carrageenan or guar gums,” said James Crouch, founder and CEO of
the Boulder, Colo.-based company.
Several other companies reported plans to add high-protein dog
foods to their portfolios this year. Beginning in spring, Mars Petcare U.S.’
Wild Frontier brand will introduce recipes that “explore new technologies
and ways to better connect pets to their ancestral instincts,” said
Christina Wang, Wild Frontier brand manager.
In May, Natural Balance Pet Foods in Burbank, Calif., will expand
its Limited Ingredient Diet (L.I.D.) High Protein formulas with Pollock
formula, Small Breed Bites Beef formula and Large Breed Bites Beef
formula. Each formula features animal-sourced protein and two
carbohydrate sources, company officials said.
WellPet will add even more Wellness Core RawRev recipes this year.
“As more pet parents understand the benefits of feeding life-stage
and breed-specific recipes, we also plan on releasing new high-protein
recipes that cater specifically to these groups, like new Wellness Core
Small Breed dry food in new Healthy Weight and Puppy recipes, as well
as new Wellness wet recipes for small breeds,” said Elaine Obergfell,
director of brand marketing for the Tewksbury, Mass.-based company.
The company also plans to unveil air- and freeze-dried topper
recipes made with raw meat to enable pet owners “to customize their
dogs’ meals with a boost of pure protein,” she said.
Under its grain- and gluten-free Barking at the Moon sub-brand,
Solid Gold will expand the line with flavor varieties formulated for dogs
with sensitivities to chicken protein and potatoes.
“With the increasing demand for toy- and small-breed recipes,
Mighty Mini will also expand in 2018,” said Leasa Greer, manager of
nutrition for the Chesterfield, Mo.-based company. She added that
the line is tailored for toy- and small-breed dogs and features “some
moderately high-protein diets at 30 percent protein.”