specialty retailers must bring themselves and their staffs
up to speed about these diets in all their forms so they,
in turn, can educate consumers and make the most of a
category that is experiencing heightened interest.
“This is essential to ensure team members are well-
versed on the brands they carry, as well as the ins
and outs of free;e-dried raw food and the benefits of
particular ingredients,” she says. “There’s no question
that quality exotic protein foods can make mealtime more
satisfying for dogs and their owners, and properly trained,
knowledgeable sales associates can quickly break down
the perceived barriers.”
This is especially the case when it comes to addressing
cost concerns. A thorough discussion about the
features and benefits of these diets can often encourage
purchasing once pet owners understand what they, and
their pets, stand to gain by paying a little more.
It’s important for retailers to know the source/country
of origin of the e;otic protein foods they offer, says Hickey.
“Also, were the animals free-range? Wild caught? Are they
naturally preserved? Quality sourcing is vitally important
for both novel and traditional proteins,” she says.
As for directing customers to the right choices for their
needs, retailers should first ask if there are any health
issues the pet owner is looking to address.
“Whether it is allergies or food sensitivities they can
then make an appropriate recommendation as to which
exotic protein would work best,” Gruber says. “For
example, if the pet is adverse to poultry, retailers might
recommend staying away from a protein like quail and
giving venison a try. They may also want to suggest
starting with a protein that’s a little less exotic, including
that into the pet’s diet and seeing how the pet reacts.”
As for merchandising exotic protein products, signage
is key, Gruber says. Retailers should be certain this
signage not only directs customer to these items but that
it clearly spells out the features and benefits.
“If space allows, retailers should create a section
geared specifically for e;otic proteins,” Gruber says.
“Endcaps are a great way to catch consumers’ attention.
They can even get creative by displaying culinary props,
;inally, offer an ample selection of e;otic protein
products and traditional foods as well, says Koss.
“;etailers offering a wide variety of diets, including
those made with exotic protein, have an opportunity to
differentiate themselves and become a solution-based
partner for their customers.” PB
Loesch agrees that sourcing can
sometimes be challenging. “Particularly for
;uality pet food manufacturers who offer
the assurance of nothing from China,”
she says. “That said, Sojos Wild is made
with wild-caught salmon from Alaska, wild
boar from the Southern U.S., and free-
Some states have placed restrictions on
bringing in certain proteins, says Hickey.
However, she adds, this hasn’t affected
Ziwi; it sources all of its proteins—such
as green-lipped mussels, wild-caught
mackerel and grass-fed, free-range
lamb—from New Zealand and sell them
throughout North America.
Increased manufacturing costs
associated with producing these kinds of
diets are another concern, since this can translates to higher pricing for consumers, says
;oss. However, as ;oesch reminds, e;otic proteins don’t necessarily have to comprise the
pet’s entire diet, which can put these formulas more in reach of consumers on a budget.
Although, as mentioned, these diets are becoming more popular, they are nevertheless
not on every pet owner’s radar. And even those who are aware of exotic protein diets
may still not have a full understanding of their benefits. Conse;uently, says ;oesch, pet
Offer an ample
products as well
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