“Pet parents are concerned about preventative
healthcare for their pets and want to know they’re giving
their pet a treat that the pet not only likes, but also has an
added functional purpose to it,” Ison says. “We’ve seen a
rise in the number of choices highlighting the inclusion
of nutraceutical ingredients such as probiotics, vitamins,
omega- 3 fatty acids and so on.”
She foresees this demand will also propel increases in the
number and variety of pet treat choices calling out health
benefits and functional characteristics.
Pet specialty retailers should be aware they are
dealing with customers that are more educated than
ever, says Stephanie Volo, vice president, marketing and
sustainability for Earth Animal. Located in Southport,
Conn., the company develops treats, supplements
and foods designed to help prevent and heal. Among
the company’s most popular treats are the No-Hide
Wholesome Chews, an alternative to rawhide. The
digestible, long-lasting chews contain a protein, brown
rice flour, olive oil, organic eggs, pineapple and banana.
Proteins include chicken, beef, pork, salmon and
venison—all of which are humanely raised, free-range,
grass-fed and wild-caught. Also available are the Chicken
Cutlets with Brushed-on-Benefits treats, formulated to
address nine ailments common to dogs, such as anxiety,
weight, energy, pain, dental, etc.
“Consumers today have become savvier, nutritionally
focused and socially conscious,” says Volo. “They are very
aware of what they put into their bodies. And because
of this, they’re willing to choose quality over price. Their
priorities are now nutritional value versus price.”
All of this is helping to spur overall category growth,
although according to McIver, this has been slight.
However, he adds, when it comes to functional and grain-free, natural treats, growth is very strong.
“The beauty in the category is that impulse-purchasing is still one of the main drivers,” says McIver.
“Manufacturers and retailers can run highly effective
promotions at store level to grow basket rings. They also
lend a great way for brands to try out different flavors, like
seasonal, to test and see if these resonate with customers.
Since treats are less of an investment than food, consumers
are much more inclined to try something new compared
to any other category in the pet industry.”
Even though many treat manufacturers have gone out
of their way to design eye-catching packaging that clearly
informs pet owners about what’s inside, that doesn’t mean
pet specialty retailers are off the hook when it comes to
providing guidance and suggestions.
In addition to full transparency, pet owners want clean, easy-to-understand labels, says
Kelly Ison, CEO of Einstein Pets LLC, a Sarasota, Fla., provider of an array of dog
treats, such as the company’s heart-healthy biscuits. The small-batch, 100 percent all-natural balanced nutritional treats contain things like chia seeds to aid in digestion and
heart health. Other treats include PB ‘N Jelly Time, Cha Cha Coconut, Pumpkin Time,
Turkey Time, Black & Whites, Sweet Potato and more. Traceability and human-grade
ingredients with proactive ingredients are also high on the list, she adds.
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