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Natural Awakenings Dallas -Fort Worth Metroplex Edition

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North Texas Pet Food Providers Sound-off on 2022 Pet Food Trends

Dec 31, 2021 01:38PM ● By Bernice Butler

North Texas Pet Food Trends

Dogs are duty-bound protectors and cats are cuddly companions—or sometimes the other way around. Whatever the case, our pets are members of the family, and we must care for them as if they are precocious children. That includes supervising grooming, play habits, medical needs and importantly—diet. What we provide or allow them to eat has a lot to do with their quality of life and even how long that will last. Natural Awakenings Dallas -Fort Worth Metroplex Magazine surveyed five area businesses to determine what exactly is trending in the field of pet nutrition.

Jacks Premium, founded by siblings Madison and Luke Clasby, has been in the manufacturing and distribution of premium, all-natural, pet feed and treats since 2010. Luke is seeing trends continue to shift toward higher-quality, human-grade, organic, holistic alternatives. whole-food, less-processed form of nutrition. "There is also expectation from consumers for ‘just-in-time’ delivery services and curbside pick-ups," notes Madison.

Jack’s Premium continues to expand its product offerings to provide a variety of choices for customers. "We realize every animal is different, and subsequently has its own unique set of needs and wants. We support many different feeding options, from raw and freeze dried to traditional kibble, and focus on many single-ingredient treats."

They were an earlier adopter of home delivery offering same day service to the entire Metro area and an easy-order smartphone app since 2010. Madison reports, "Consumers are becoming more and more educated. The speed at which information changes hands is lightening quick. Consumers can demand certain expectations, and the companies that listen and adapt to their needs will be the ones that continue to grow."

He explains that the advent of COVID has effected the supply chain supporting the pet food industry. "There have been ingredients that have become more difficult to source, as packers were short on labor and have not harvested as many animal parts as in the recent past. In addition, consumers may see changes in packaging solutions because there has been disruption in the manufacturing of paper and plastic feed sacks, as well as plastic containers. Hopefully, these disruptions will force the pet food industry into seeking out sustainable and more eco-friendly solutions which they have been putting off due to lower-cost solutions being readily available."

Jacks Premium, 4823 Cash Rd., Dallas. 1-844-445-2257, JacksPremium.com.

Raw by Canines First has been in business for eight years. Owner Greg Raupers notes, "The pandemic brought out a lot of new buying trends. Most households are looking for longer-lasting chews or interactive toys to keep the dog busy while they are on conference calls. We like lick mats, West Paw toys and treat balls. We are also seeing people pay more attention to their pets' diet and start to apply the same quality nutrition standards to their pets' food that they follow on a day-to-day basis; that means less processed foods and more fresh and high-quality ingredients. Nutrition has the greatest impact on our pets' lives, and it isn’t hard to make vast improvements without significantly increasing the time or money you spend."

Raupers observes, "RAW by Canines First is seeing a lot of customers spend more time with their pets and reflect on the types of food they choose to feed. Most of our customers who feed kibble have made the choice to include frozen or freeze dried raw food to their pet bowl to boost the palatability and nutrients. A recently published 10-year study by Helsinki University shows that including as little as 20 percent of raw food in a dog’s diet will result in the positive attributes associated with feeding a raw diet. The most prominent attributes are less shedding, smaller stools and reduced allergies/scratching."

He is also seeing a lot of small and elderly dogs switch to lightly cooked food. The brands RAW by Canines First carries use human-grade ingredients which are lightly cooked to improve desirability and increase digestibility. "Even adding a small portion of cooked food to the pet’s regular food will get your dog to finish their bowl as soon as you put it down," Raupers advises.

"RAW by Canines First has always focused on nutrition and finding the high quality foods that fit each price category and that will never change. What we see more and more is that people are interested in the ingredients in the bag, he says. "They want to see more of the ingredients and ingredient quality that they feed themselves in their pets' food. It only makes sense that better nutrition leads to a better life for the owner and the pet."

RAW Canines First, 5460 W. Lovers Ln., Ste. 232, Dallas. 214-350-0808, RawByCaninesFirst.com.

Muenster Milling, in business since 1932, is a manufacturer of Natural, Holistic Dog and Pet Food. Director of Marketing Eddie Hale thinks there is a growing trend for dog foods that are either kibble-free or kibble-mix type foods. "People are making their own foods, buying frozen fresh and freeze-dried or looking for custom blends of traditional kibble with added freeze-dried, extra proteins and fats, and other healthy alternative ingredients."

He explains, "In our minds, freeze-drying is the most impactful, because the finished product is more like what the dog would eat in the wild. The products coming out of the process maintain nutritional integrity of the proteins, vitamins and minerals. Without the need for added carbs to hold the food together, your dog will have less inflammation and better nutrition. Freeze-dried products also have a longer shelf life and are better for carrying in your pockets for walks, or to take on trips for people who make their dogs' food fresh every day."

Muenster is investing heavily in freeze-drying single ingredient treats, complete and balanced meals, treats and toppers in an effort to fight canine obesity through better nutrition. "We are also pioneering the ability to add custom enhancements like bacon fat, salmon oil, probiotics, freeze-dried beef, chicken or elk, bone broth and more, which we then add and hand mix to your bag of Muenster dog food," says Hale. "This means that we can mix a bag of dog food based on your dog’s unique needs.

Hale feels that the kibble, or traditional dog food, has evolved as far as it can. "Many of the larger companies have focused on running what we call 'round and brown', and as much of it as possible. We are taking the approach of making what the dog needs, even if it takes longer and costs us more.," He says. "Add to that the fact that a growing number of pet owners who understand their own nutritional requirements are more and more looking out for the nutritional well-being of their four-legged family members by pursuing foods designed to contribute to a healthier lifestyle for the animal."

Muenster Milling Company, 202 S. Main St., Muenster. 940-759-2287, MuensterMilling.com.

The Lucky Dog Barkery has been in business since 2005. General Manager Benjamin Pratt says, "The most widespread trend in the natural pet food market is the expansion of gently cooked, fresh food diets, as well as the growth of the raw food category. This has been aided in part by the increase of direct-to-consumer, fresh-cooked brands and their aggressive marketing. However, it can also be attributed to a greater awareness by pet parents about the benefits of fresh, minimally processed food with high meat content over highly processed, lower-meat and higher-carbohydrate kibble diets.

He reports that Lucky Dog Barkery has addressed this trend by investing heavily in employee training, as well as partnering with manufacturers to educate the staff and customers about the benefits of fresh versus processed foods. "We have also addressed the trend by focusing our inventory selection and budget toward accommodating the increasing demand of premium fresh foods. By reorganizing and removing some of our dry food shelves to make room for additional freezers, we have redesigned our food section of the store and considerably expanded our fresh raw and cooked food selection," notes Pratt.

"The most notable change over the years concerning the trending fresh and raw food categories is that the consumer is more receptive to natural food options, even if there are more steps involved (i.e., thawing the food, storage, refrigeration, etc.) and often a higher cost. There is a better acceptance of quality over convenience," he advises. As for COVID, the thinks that the number of people with time for a pet has increased due to the increased time spent at home, which correlates to the increase in awareness of natural, fresh foods, as well as premium products and services.

Lucky Dog Barkery, 8320 Preston Center Plaza, Dallas. 214-368-6000, TheLuckyDogBarkery.com.

Founded in the 1950s, Hollywood Feed is a natural and holistic pet specialty retail store with a strong focus on customer service and improving the lives of pets everywhere. President Shawn McGhee states, "We got our start as the local feed store on the corner of Hollywood Street, in Memphis, Tennessee. Over the years, we began focusing our products and services on household pets. Today, Hollywood Feed offers a wide selection of natural and holistic pet food and products. We support local rescues through regular pet adoption and community events and donate more than 100,000 pounds of pet food to area shelters annually, in addition to sponsoring several dog parks in the Dallas area. We’re proud to have more than 104 stores across 14 states, with 31 of our locations being in Texas."

He has observed that owners are exploring new options for pet food and treating, such as raw diets, grain-free, calming treats and more. "Aside from pet owners continuing to desire more holistic and natural food and treats for their beloved pets, the major change we’ve seen in pet food is the method by which pet owners shop for these items, he says. "A growing number of pet owners shop for pet food online, get it delivered or pick it up via curbside pickup service."

They stay educated about the latest innovations in pet nutrition and are able to provide sound guidance to customers. "Something that sets us apart is that our customers don’t come in just to buy dog food. They come in to get advice on how to provide their furry family members with the best nutrition and quality of life—and we’re able to provide just that, shares McGhee. "To offer the best customer service, our sales associates receive over 40 hours of training annually from veterinarians, nutritionists, vendors and behaviorists." Shopping options include online ordering, same-day delivery via our the Hollywood Feed fleet (free for orders over $49), curbside pickup locations and in stores.

Hollywood Feed, 20 North Texas locations and 1341 Warford St., Memphis, TN. HollywoodFeed.com.