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With customers trending toward all-natural pet food, North Jersey pet shops adapt


With customers trending toward all-natural pet food, North Jersey pet shops adapt

MAY 12, 2014    LAST UPDATED: MONDAY, MAY 12, 2014, 1:21 AM

* Natural products cost consumers and stores more but are growing in popularity

North Jersey pet supply store owners say the trend of customers seeking pet food containing all-natural ingredients might cost customers more, but it has brought a growing number of better-informed pet owners into their shops.

In 2007, a massive recall of pet food that contained the chemical melamine, which is used in fertilizer and plastic utensils, shook customers’ preferences from generic food that contains corn, wheat or soy toward hormone- and steroid-free, grass-fed, all-meat ingredients, owners said.

In fact, through May 2013, the percentage of dog food brands claiming to be “gluten-free” was 28.6 percent, up from 12.6 percent in the full year of 2012, according to a report on United States pet food trends last year by Supply Side Animal Nutrition Insights. In the same report it said natural pet food accounted for $1.5 billion in sales in 2009, and was projected to outpace the sales of traditional pet food over the next five years.

This shift in what customers wanted to feed their pets forced local owners to expand their offerings of pet food, which added costs to their bottom line. But it also helped build trust with their customers. While large retailers like Petco offer organic and all-natural food, the owners said being a smaller store offers them the opportunity to talk one-on-one with customers and offer specific food recommendations for certain breeds of dogs.

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