While new types of dog treats are constantly being introduced to the market, the trends continue to follow those that are tried and true.
By Michele Tymann
Dog treat companies have been listening to consumers’ wants and needs. That is why, over the past few years, the market has seen an influx of CBD treats, the ebbs and flows of whole-grain nutrition, and the introduction of novel proteins. However, one trend that hasn’t faltered since it arrived on the scene is single-ingredient or limited-ingredient snacks.
“Wholesome, all-natural treats [use] the ingredients within the product for a reason, and not just to increase weight or yield during a product cook,” says Len Horowitz, CEO and founder of Man’s Best Friend. “Limited- or single-ingredient treats lead the pack of purchased items over products where one cannot pronounce or understand the value of the ingredient itself.”
The Port Washington, N.Y.-based company owns 4 Paws Butcher Shop, which sells single-ingredient jerky in chicken, pork, turkey and waygu, as well as burgers comprised of one or two proteins, combined with fruit and veggies.
“Our treats hit the mark when it comes to both limited-ingredients and single-ingredient, all-natural treats,” says Horowitz. “Our four varietals of jerkies are single-ingredient, 100 percent protein and nothing else.”
Mark Sapir, chief marketing officer of Oak Creek, Wisc.-based Stella & Chewy’s, agrees that limited-ingredient and single-ingredient treats are the way to go.
“There has been a big push to have treat solutions that are clean and natural,” says Sapir. “This is consistent with pet parents wanting the same nutritional value of the pet food. Pet parents are not looking at compromising anywhere with food or treats.”
Stella & Chewy’s sells single-ingredient, freeze-dried treats in six varieties, as well as its Wild Weenies, which are made of 97 percent protein and organs, also available in six varieties.
“Wild Weenies are our most popular treat; they have been out for about a year and the response from pet parents has been ‘wild,’” says Sapir. “The single-ingredient treats seem to bring out an unmatched reaction in terms of dog’s excitement for our food. We have done well with our single-ingredient treats, because they are clean, single-ingredient protein treats.”
Wholesome Hide also provides limited-ingredient treats in its rawhides that are made with U.S.-sourced beef and pork hides.
“Wholesome Hide also makes products that combine U.S. rawhide with smoked pork hide that is made for us using a proprietary process,” says John Bosserman, sales and marketing manager at the Dolton, Ill.-based company. “The Bacon-in-a-Blanket is a roll made by wrapping a sheet of rawhide around a bacon roll. Our Bone-with-Bacon is just that—a strip of pork hide is woven into the beef hide bone.”
One of its best selling products is the Super-Thick Retriever Roll, which is about the size of a rolled-up newspaper and is made of tough, USA-sourced rawhide.
“Customers with big dogs tell us it’s the only chew they’ve found that will last several days,” says Bosserman. “And of course they tell us their dogs love them!”
Just as limited-ingredient treats will continue to be popular, so will functional treats, including CBD treats as well as those that provide extra functionality such as dental, joint, skin and heart health.
“From treats that are formulated—or marketed—to complement your dog’s food and regular feeding to actual functional treats that address health or wellness, pet parents today have several options to consider based on their needs,” says Jaclyn Sion, marketing director at NPIC, based in Plano, Texas.
The company owns the brands GetNaked, Twistix and N-Bone. Between the three brands, the company provides a variety of functional treats, from dental health, weight management, antioxidants, skin and coat health, and even puppy teething rings.
“Along with the benefit of its easy-to-hold shape, the N-Bone Puppy Teething Rings are specifically designed to be a safe, appropriate outlet for your puppy’s chewing urges, while promoting good dental health,” says Sion. “Our teething rings and treats are soft and pliable to protect immature teeth, and they help to massage and soothe puppies’ sore gums while chewing.”
Sarah Salva, director of marketing for H&C Animal Health, also believes that CBD and extra functional treats will be a top contender going forward.
“Pet parents are looking for treats that have safe and simple ingredients, that their pets also enjoy eating. A hot trend for 2019 are treats with CBD or other functional health ingredients,” says Salva.
The Parker, Colo.-based company produces ActivPhy, a joint supplement that uses blue green algae extract to support a dog’s normal anti-inflammatory response. The company also announced the launch of its vet-formulated brand, dailydose.
“Our line of dailydose Dual Benefit treats have received rave reviews among consumers and their dogs,” says Salva. “Our line combines a powerful royal jelly extract that kills plaque causing bacteria in the mouth with supplements to boost your dog’s everyday health. The line comes in Dental + Joint Health, Dental + Skin Health, Dental + Heart Health and Dental + Calming.”
Treats are a fun add-on and impulse item for pet parents, especially when they bring their pets with them to the store. Having samples and individual packs of treats by the front of the store is a great way for retailers to get that extra sale.
“Offering single packs at the front of the store is a great way to get your customers to try a new treat,” says Salva. “Since consumers are not typically very brand loyal in this category, keeping your set fresh and bringing in unique offerings will help build excitement.”
This is especially true around holidays when customers aren’t necessarily planning to buy treats, but seeing them at the front of the store or in end-caps will trigger their urge to buy some for their own pets, or pets of friends and families.
“Treats are a great impulse purchase for pet parents, especially around the holidays,” says Sapir. “Treats make a great ‘stocking stuffer.’”
Sion agrees that grabbing the attention of the customer is key to selling these items.
“Use attention-grabbing POP displays that visually engage and educate on products, coupled with traditional merchandising accessories, like clip strips and aisle disruptors, to enforce the message and promotion,” she suggests.
Treats are going to continue to be a must-have item in every store, especially as these trends continue to grow and new ones emerge.
“I imagine we’ll continue to see growth surrounding the trends mentioned previously with new product development and/or services that focus on cross-category opportunities and channel collaborations,” says Sion.
Manufacturers are continually looking for new angles to take in this category, hoping to satisfy every customer’s wants and needs.
“Wholesome Hide is always active in research and development of new ideas,” says Bosserman. “We’re working on a new ecologically-neutral system of rawhide processing that will produce a chew that is ultra-safe and flavorful. We are also in the exploratory stages of creating a variety of rawhide chews using hides from exotic animals, including elk, deer, wild boar and even armadillos to produce the toughest chew available.”
The overall agreement is that this category isn’t slowing down anytime soon.
“We think the category will continue to expand,” says Sapir. “It is a really healthy, growing category in neighborhood pet stores. We continue to launch and support single-ingredient treats. We have a lot planned to expand our treats in 2020 and beyond.” PB