For independent pet retailers, natural food options equate
to loyal customers and a competitive edge.
No longer a novel marketing category of pet food, natural diets are becoming main- stream in some markets, with retailers focusing on products in the segment—in some cases to the exclusion of all other diets.
“As more people leave the big-box stores and shop at the
smaller mom-and-pop retail pet stores and find out about
natural pet food, more [natural foods] will be sold, and I think
more will come on the market,” said Bob Marshall, owner of
Naturally Dogs and Cats in Hartford, Conn.
Increasingly, retailers are finding success with specific subcategories of natural foods, including foods free from grains,
gluten and GMOs, as well as other natural-adjacent offerings.
“Pet parents are gravitating toward products that are not
only natural, but are also grain free, GMO-ingredient free, made
in small batches in the USA and [made with] human-grade in-
gredients,” said Adrian Pettyan, CEO and co-founder of Caru
Pet Food Co. in Vero Beach, Fla.
To meet these demands, the manufacturer introduced a
new line of natural stews for dogs called Daily Dish in June.
The line features grain-free recipes made with chunks of
chicken, beef, lamb or turkey, plus chickpeas, apples, peas
and pumpkin, Pettyan said. All ingredients are human grade,
Marshall noted that exotic proteins are also increasingly
popular, with customers seeking a variety of offerings, and
manufacturers are responding to this trend with new product
“Certainly the natural grain-free segment is right in front,
and we’re seeing more demand for exotic proteins, such as
alligator, bison, elk, ostrich, wild boar and kangaroo,” said Brad
By Ethan D. Mizer