Begin 2019 by Making a Raw Resolution for Your Store
The New Year is almost here and as we all settle in for winter, with our own resolutions, why not throw one in for our pets? It’s easy in the pet food industry to forget that fresh is best when it comes to nutrition for ourselves and for our pets. We make resolutions to eat more salads, grab more greens, ditch fast food but what about our companions? Integrating raw foods into dogs and cats’ diets can make a huge difference in their health. Treating the freezer section of your store as an exclusive space, only for those committed to a 100% raw diet is the wrong approach.
All pet parents should have access to raw fresh foods that are balanced, safe, and species appropriate as well as convenient and cost-effective.
Wild dogs and cats are carnivores and are intended to eat a raw meat diet rich in organ meat, moisture, and enzymes. They might forage on greens and or the stomach contents of their prey for fiber, trace minerals, and specific vitamins and antioxidants, but they don’t cook or consume starchy vegetables or grains as a fuel source.
Our domestic companions haven’t changed much at all digestively and genetically speaking. They still have short, acidic digestive tracts that lack proper space and time to digest processed foods that are lacking in moisture and enzymes. Most of our customers are feeding kibble exclusively to their pets. These foods are carbohydrate heavy, enzyme deficient, highly processed, dry foods that provide vitamin content with multivitamins added after production.
At independent retail, we are teaching them which of these processed foods are superior and we’re doing a great job at that! But is it enough to buy the organic breakfast cereal? Don’t we also need to pick up an apple to go with it?
There’s an idea for a raw resolution! An apple a day = One raw food item per customer.
Balance Is Key
When feeding pets, you're feeding carnivores so choose fresh foods that give them access to the things they’re missing in their processed and carbohydrate-heavy kibble diets. Species appropriate fresh and frozen foods are key! Here is the breakdown.
- Meat: muscle meat, organs, and bone.
- Produce: fibrous raw vegetables and fruit content. Stick to raw and whole fruits and veggies and avoid starchy grains, legumes, and potatoes. Avoid onions, garlic, grapes, and raisins as they are toxic to dogs.
- Oils and healthy fats: raw animal fats, cold pressed coconut oils and appropriately sourced and stored fish oils.
Safe Practices are Best Practices
Choose raw food manufacturers who care about quality sourcing and good manufacturing practices. Teach your customers the differences between the raw meats at their local grocer and the superior and safe raw meats and products they can find at your pet store! Antibiotic, hormone, and steroid free meats are a great starting point, but of equal importance will be handling, manufacturing, quality control, and testing.
Ask your manufacturers what they do to ensure the safety of their products they will be happy to tell you everything you need to know. Share your knowledge with your employees so they are prepared to answer any questions customers have regarding raw diets.
The Convenience of Toppers
Know your customer! Ask them questions to figure out what their experience with raw pet food is. Maybe they have already been using some raw products as treats, but want to transition it into their pet's regular diet. Are they more comfortable with a freeze-dried product that can be used as a treat outside the home or crumbled into free choice kibble?
Maybe they’re vegetarian customers who are uncomfortable handling raw meat but want the benefits of fresh foods, enzymes, and probiotics for their pet. Why not try a frozen broth or green nutrition topper? Maybe a raw goat milk added to kibble like breakfast cereal?
Who feeds the pet? Is it a child or a spouse who is used to scoop and serve with no prep? Try a frozen topper! A scoop of kibble, a scoop of frozen scoop-able raw (like Primal Pronto) from the freezer, warm water or broth to hydrate kibble and thaw the frozen and serve. No prep, no waiting. Scoop, scoop, water, serve!
Are they already accustomed to a canned topper to scoop a bit into each meal from the fridge? Try a Messy Mutts raw prep bowl and a few frozen nuggets or a patty. Thawed frozen raw can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-5 days and scooped into meals as needed.
The large variety of raw food items might not be obvious, approachable, or accessible for every customer. Gauge their comfort level and go from there. If you’re concerned that you or a staff member might not always be available to guide each customer directly, consider adding a “raw toppers” or “fresh food” section to your store. If possible, add visible signage and brief educational information to help them make good choices on their own.
Raw Doesn't Need to Break the Bank
When considering raw foods for the cost-conscious consumer, remember that some raw is better than no raw. Regardless of the size of their pet, an 8 lb Chihuahua or an 80 lb Labrador, they can start by replacing a small amount of kibble with one nugget of raw (frozen or freeze-dried) or a tablespoon of a liquid topper (broth, milk, or green nutrition). A little bit goes a long way in providing whole food nutrients, digestible proteins and fats, enzymes, and probiotics.
Pro Tip: Don’t forget that many of our customer's pets are overweight. To combat the cost hurdles, even more, consider replacing 1/4 cup of kibble with 1 frozen or freeze-dried raw nugget. They’ll reduce a bit of calories but more importantly, they’ll replace high starch foods with high protein and high moisture whole foods. They’ll save money on kibble purchases and have a leaner, healthier pet!
The Bottom Line
Big online retail giants partnering with fresh food grocery isn’t an accident. Shoppers today want premium fresh food ingredients locally and shopping that leaves them feeling great about the experience and their purchases. Help steer them towards the products in your store they can’t get elsewhere, as a gateway to a raw diet!
Fun Fact: The frozen pet food customer shops more frequently in comparison to the average kibble feeder, data suggests up to 4x’s as much annually!
Helping each of your customers to understand the health benefits of adding raw frozen foods to their pet’s diet will improve their life and vitality. If you can show them that these foods are safe, convenient, and cost-effective you can insulate your business at the same time!
About Lindsay Meyers
Lindsay is a certified veterinary technician (BS CVT/LVT) and New England native. Her passion for veterinary medicine started very early in life and after several years in veterinary practice she jumped at an opportunity to work for Primal Pet Foods. Her experience in nutrition and passion for educating pet parents, retailers, and veterinary professionals quickly moved her from sales to marketing and veterinary outreach. Lindsay & her husband and two children share their home with two amazing one of a kind southern rescue dogs and 9 beloved chickens.