Treats with Purpose
Natural pet treats and chews boasting carefully chosen
ingredients and nutritious formulas are leading the category.
BY KEITH LORIA
Pet owners are becoming increasingly aware of sugars and sweet- eners in the treats and chews they give to their dogs, which is why manufacturers have started supplying more healthful and
natural products, and why retailers are stocking their shelves with
these in-demand items.
“Customers want natural, sweetener-free—no sugar, corn syrup,
molasses, maple syrup, etc.— treats that they can feel good about
giving their pets,” said Samantha Henson, clinical pet nutritionist for
Premier Pet Supply, which has stores in Michigan. “Treats with purpose, like ones with probiotics, omegas, dental enzymes and so on.”
Todd Rowan, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Bixbi
Pet in Boulder, Colo., said consumers are hyper-focused on simple
ingredient panels containing words they understand.
For this reason, many pet retailers are also seeing a rise in popularity of single-ingredient treats, such as freeze-dried meats.
David Yaskulka, vice president of social investment and engagement for Halo, Purely for Pets in Tampa, Fla., said the industry needs
to pay attention to two fast-growing yet very different trends: one is
the move to real, whole meat, with bonus points from many millennials if that meat comes from humane and sustainable farms.
“The other is the move to vegan lifestyles, with millennials again
focusing on sustainable, non-GMO sources,” he said. “Both trendset-
ters want to feed their pets clean treats with no fillers. Both care about
the corporate social reputation of the brand.”
Ryan Oaks, general manager of Mini-Critters in Sioux Falls, S.D.,
said that similar to the pet food category, the treats and chews cate-
gory is going back to the basics with meat-based natural ingredients,
no additives and minimal processing.
“More and more people are starting to look for something safe
that won’t break their pocket book,” he said. “Proper nutrition is the
first line of defense against many of the diseases that plague pets
today. Healthy treats are the perfect way to reward pets and help
Natasha Hamon, retail operations manager for Healthy Spot,
which has stores in California, noted that customers are becoming
more savvy about reading ingredient labels and looking into how
those ingredients are sourced.
“Our Healthy Spot chews, for example, are all beef, contain no
chemicals, additives or preservatives and are made in the USA,” she
said. “Details like these are very quickly becoming part of many cus-
Mary Helen Horn, president of Ziwi USA in Overland Park, Kan.,
said people are recognizing the huge health benefits that higher-qual-
ity foods, treats and chews offer to pets, so it’s becoming increasingly
important to them that companies are transparent about the sourcing
and processing of their ingredients.
“One of our core foundations is our commitment to sourcing from
free-range, grass-fed, local New Zealand farms and from New Zealand’s pristine oceans,” she said. “This is how we source the meat
ingredients in all Ziwi products, including our treats and chews.”
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FOCUSED ON INGREDIENTS
Bixbi Pet has always taken a limited-ingredient approach to formulating
its treats, according to company officials, and its newest product, the Bixbi
Bar chew, has just four ingredients.
“Our new nonfunctional jerky treats bring a ton of value to cost-
conscious consumers,” said Todd Rowan, senior vice president of sales
and marketing at Bixbi Pet in Boulder, Colo. “In fact, we just lowered prices
across our entire jerky treat line.”
Halo, Purely for Pets offers both dog and cat owners highly digestible
treats made with real whole meat, salmon or chicken, called Liv-A-Littles,
said David Yaskulka, vice president of social investment and engagement
for the Tampa, Fla.-based company.
“For dog parents living in an exclusive vegan home or pet parents
looking to reduce their dog’s carbon footprint, we also offer Halo
Healthsome Dog Vegan with Peanut n’ Pumpkin Treats,” Yaskulka added.
Mary Helen Horn, president of Ziwi USA in Overland Park, Kan., said the
company’s robust research and development team is currently working
on several innovations for 2018, which it plans to launch in the ensuing
months to expand its air-dried treats and chews portfolio.