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Pet Food Industry Magazine Features Natura Petz Organics


Pet food complements can be found in greater numbers on pet store shelves thanks to a consumer desire for variety in their pets’ diets. |


ON APRIL 11, 2016

Pet food toppers' market popularity growing

As consumers increasingly scrutinize the food in their pets’ bowls, supplemental items that serve as additions to conventional pet food are hitting the market.

In a day and age where pet owners increasingly scrutinize their pets’ food almost as if it were their own, it stands to reason that supplements to primary pet food diets would grow in market popularity. According to GfK data, pet meal enhancers (a category which includes all manner of gravies, mixers and toppers) saw US$21 million in sales in 2015—a 332% increase compared to 2014. The number of SKUs for the category has doubled since 2013, from 65 to 128, and roughly four out of five products cater to dogs.

In a further category breakdown, GfK said that the segment’s growth has been driven by freeze-dried meal mixers and wet, chunky food toppers. In fact, freeze-dried mixers accounted for 63% (US$13.1 million) of all 2015 enhancer sales—a 625% year-over-year growth rate. Rounding out the data, wet food toppers saw US$6.5 million in sales in 2015, making up 31% of the total category (and seeing 224% year-over-year growth), and liquid toppers saw US$1.3 million in sales—a flat number when compared to 2014, according to GfK.

The growth of specialty pet food and the direction of consumer desires have provided plenty of opportunities for companies wanting to incorporate their brand strengths while exploring the possibilities of pet food toppers. The Honest Kitchen, for example, in April 2016 launched “proper toppers”—a line of dehydrated pet food toppers that can be used as a boost to conventional pet food, served as a complete meal or used as a treat, according to the company. Two grain-free recipes, chicken and turkey, are currently available, containing 90% meat and superfoods such as blueberries, pumpkin and apples.

The Honest Kitchen offers Proper Toppers, dehydrated dog food toppers that can also serve as meal replacements or treats. | Courtesy The Honest Kitchen

It was a natural expansion to their brand’s offerings, according to The Honest Kitchen, as 64% of dog owners surveyed by the company said they mixed extra food ingredients into their dog’s kibble as a way to add variety. Proper toppers were developed to meet a growing trend for meal enhancements and consumer desire to customize their pets’ meals. "We believe pets should be given the same quality nutrition as humans, and we frequently incorporate human food trends into our innovation pipeline," said The Honest Kitchen's Founder and CEO Lucy Postins. "Just as superfoods and clean foods with few ingredients have become wildly popular among humans, they're also incredibly beneficial for dogs.”

In a different subset of dry topper options, Natura Petz Organics in 2015 launched a line of organic nutritive superfood meal toppers for both dogs and cats. Available as powders in retail-ready, shelf-stable tins, each meal topper contains organic, health-promoting ingredients that help add nutritional value to pets’ diets, according to the company. One formula (Break It Up Stone Eliminator), for example, claims to break up to 94% of bladder stones, crystals, calculi and gravel within two weeks of use, and helps address all types of stones that plague pets. Another (Joint Support) claims that it may help support joint problems related to degenerative tissue decline and bone loss; may help address sore joints related to arthritis; and may help promote healthy, strong muscles, joints and bones.

Pet Food Industry magazine features Natura Petz Organics Meal ToppersPet Food Industry mag features Natura Petz Organics Pawr Crumbles

Wet toppers, in addition to contributing to a rising trend, provide a shelf-stable option for pet stores to embrace. A growing distribution in neighborhood retail—from 7% in 2014 to 17% in 2015—may indicate that independent retailers are already aware of the opportunity, according to GfK data.

In March 2016, Wellness Natural Pet Food announced an expansion to their Wellness TruFood line: grain-free Wellness TruFood meal complements for dogs and cats. The line is available at specialty pet retailers, Petco, PetSmart and online. “TruFood complements are a delicious, healthy way for pet parents to make mealtime more special,” said Lisa Laich, director of marketing at Wellness. “They contain a limited number of quality ingredients that pack big flavors into a moist mealtime topper or savory snack.”

Wellness offers grain-free Wellness TruFood meal complements for dogs and cats, the latest additions to the company’s Wellness TruFood line. | Courtesy Wellness Natural Pet Food

Complements are made with whole prey proteins and fresh produce and contain no more than five ingredients. Dog-centric varieties are available in chicken breast, chicken liver & broccoli in broth; tuna, beef & carrots in broth; chicken breast, salmon & pumpkin in broth; and chicken breast, beef & carrots in broth. Cat-centric varieties include flaked tuna & shrimp in broth; shredded chicken breast & flaked mackerel in broth; shredded chicken breast in broth; and flaked salmon & tuna in broth.

NuPath offers a specific supplement focusing on the benefits of pumpkin for dogs and landing in between wet and liquid toppers: Pure-Ease. A proprietary pumpkin puree blend, it’s easy for dogs to digest, resulting in greater bioavailability and absorption of the active ingredients, while the soluble fiber in the blend supports a healthy digestive tract, according to the company. The puree comes in four formulas, including Digestion, Skin & Coat, Calming and Hip & Joint.

NuPath has entered the enhancers market with Pure-Ease pumpkin puree, a nutritional supplement that includes formulas for digestion, skin & coat, calming and hip & joint. Courtesy NuPath

While the majority of available products on the market are for dogs, that doesn’t mean cats are being forgotten. Sales of cat meal enhancers have risen 264% in the last year, according to GfK, compared to 232% for dog items. It’s possible that since wet food already accounts for 42% of all US cat food sales, wet food toppers are less of a market draw, said GfK. All the same, options are out there, and they’re growing.

Purina, for example, offers the Muse line of natural cat food. The line includes 26 recipes, including “with toppers,” “in broth” and “in gravy” items. The toppers products provide six different formulas, all in broth, with toppers such as bonito, shrimp, anchovies and baby clams. All recipes are grain free and made with fish or chicken; have no corn, wheat or soy; contain no artificial flavors or preservatives; and are all-natural with essential nutrients, according to the company. The “in broth” products are also made with fish or chicken, in either a chicken or a fish broth with additional vegetables. Recipes in gravy include chicken, tuna (alone and with shrimp) and salmon.

Purina’s Muse line of natural cat food includes products with toppers, as well as formulas in gravy and broth. | Courtesy Purina

Merging cat food enhancers and cat treats, Hartz has introduced Delectables lickable treats, wet cat treats that combine fish and chicken with juice in two different textures: stew and bisque. Stew varieties include chicken & tuna, tuna & whitefish, chicken & tuna for senior cats, and tuna & shrimp. Bisque varieties include tuna & chicken, tuna, tuna & chicken for senior cats, and tuna & shrimp.

It’s clear that options are ever-expanding as the pet food industry follows the growing trend of pet food enhancers. From dry toppers to wet toppers, from supplemental purees to gravies and broths, pet food manufacturers are prepared, as always, to give consumers what they’re looking for.





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