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Training, Celebration and Single Ingredient Top Trends in the Dog Treat Category

In our “Trending In” column, we talk to brands meeting the needs of retailers and pet parents alike.

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OPPORTUNITIES ARE ENDLESS in the dog treat category. Ingredients, textures, sizes, shapes … The only limits are a brand’s imagination. We asked a few favorites of independent pet retailers where they see the category going and what they have available now and in the works. Their responses line up nicely with a few of the requests in Retailer Wishlist on the next page!

Training

ZIWI Marketing Manager Jessica Krueger points to training treats as a subcategory in great demand.

“Shoppers are looking for treats that are versatile and conducive to a productive training session,” she says. “ZIWI Air-Dried recipes and Good Dog Rewards are loved by trainers throughout the globe due to the extreme palatability that makes pets want to work for them, but also the ability to break them apart into smaller pieces without crumbling. This keeps distractions to a minimum and training on track!”

But not just any training treat will do, as many pet parents look for brands with sustainability efforts to support.

Krueger says, “With so many brands in the pet space, pet parents increasingly question what is right for their pet in particular. Different pet parents have different requirements when qualifying what brand to choose, and sometimes nutrition alone does not come out on top, especially in the premium segment where it is a minimum requirement. This is why pet parents will seek additional values — like a company’s mission and values, sustainability, sourcing, manufacturing — that align with their own.”

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Celebrations

Not all treats need to be earned, and celebration treats give independent pet retailers yet another way to create a memorable customer experience that gives them a competitive edge against big-box and online stores. Brands like THE BEAR AND THE RAT continue to meet this need.

“Whether it’s their dog’s birthday, an upcoming special day or Taco Tuesday, our products connect with consumers on an emotional level,” co-founder Meg Meyer says. “The consumer may not have known they needed a cupcake mix for their dog, but when the mixes are merchandised by the register or in a celebration set or in a temporary set, the consumer is able to connect the product to an upcoming reason to celebrate in their life. These incremental purchases may not have been anywhere on the consumer’s radar when they walked into the store for food, but it’s an opportunity for the retailer to surprise and delight their customer and increase their basket size at the same time.”

Meyer shares what the company has in the works.

“The Bear & The Rat is working on a premium single-serve frozen food topper that is unique to the industry. It is exciting because it adds convenient nutrition in a format that doesn’t exist on the market today. We are also developing several new shelf stable SKUs for our Barley’s Bakes line of celebration treats.”

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Single Ingredient

When we ask the PETS+ Brain Squad about their product wants and needs every month, we get “single-ingredient treats!” as an answer — even when we’re not asking about this category. GRANDMA LUCY’S recognizes the demand and helps to meet it.

Brand Manager Kristel Kimball says, “Pet nutrition is booming! People have never been more conscious of what they are feeding their pets. Our Singles treats offer a savory, minimally processed, always responsibly sourced, single-ingredient option. We offer them in chicken, liver, sweet potato, with new flavors beef, pork and shrimp just hitting the shelves.”


To be featured in an upcoming “Trending In” or “Brand Solutions” column, sign up for the call for product pitches we send out for each issue. Email [email protected].

Pamela Mitchell is the Editor-in-Chief of PETS+. She works from her home office in Houston, TX, with Ty the Boston Terrier as her assistant.

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