W.We tell our children how important it is to eat their fruits and vegetables to stay healthy, so why not do the same for our fur babies too?
While meat-oriented meals – especially raw foods – are becoming increasingly popular with cats and dogs, it’s a common misconception that pets don’t need fruits and vegetables, says Emma Kumbier, Veterinary Outreach Coordinator for Primal Pet Foods.
“Dogs and cats use fruits and vegetables as nutrients and as feces, not as fuel,” she explains. “A meat-only diet is not complete and balanced for dogs and cats. The inclusion of other ingredients such as fruits and vegetables balances the diet with various nutrients that your pet cannot get from muscle meat, organs and bones alone. “
Similarly, another myth pet traders often hear from customers is the concern that fruits and vegetables in pet food or treats are just filler material or a cost-saving measure. That’s just not the case, says Eric Abbey, President and Founder of Loving Pets.
“Fruits and vegetables play a vital role in your pet’s diet and overall health,” he says. “At Loving Pets we pay close attention to the fruits and vegetables that we add to all of our treats, and each addition has a thoughtful benefit.”
While it may seem like an uphill battle to tackle all of the misunderstandings and misinformation surrounding the role of fruits and vegetables in pet nutrition, it is well worth trading for. Not only can owner training help increase sales of products with products, but it is also an opportunity to become a one-stop shop for pet nutrition advice in your community.
“Retailers who boast of being healers can act as ambassadors for the importance of fruit and vegetable feeding,” says Dr. Bob Goldstein, co-founder of Earth Animal. “Educating and sharing the benefits of a healthy diet that contains phytonutrients and antioxidants is an important service.”
Providing this vital service is one way pet stores can prove to be a trusted and reliable source for customers.
“Businesses need to be able to educate their customers,” added Charlie Bachkora, founder of JAC Pet Nutrition. “This way, when consumers walk into the store, trust the store or the on-site employee to provide them with good nutritional advice. It also differs from large retail stores. “
The first step in spreading the truth about fruits and vegetables is to understand what each ingredient can do for cats and dogs.
“Apples, for example, are a great source of fiber and vitamins A and C, which not only can improve your pet’s skin and coat health, but can also strengthen the immune system. Apples also help clean the tartar, ”explains Abbey.
“Blueberries help with blood sugar and cholesterol because they’re high in antioxidants,” says Bachkora. “They’re also a great source of fiber. Green beans and raspberries are very similar. “
Carrots and sweet potatoes, on the other hand, are high in vitamin A and beta-carotene, an antioxidant that supports healthy eyesight. Cranberries can support bladder health, while the omega-6 in pumpkin is good for pet skin and fur.
Of course, not all fruits and vegetables are good for cats and dogs. Grapes, onions, citrus fruits (e.g. grapefruit, oranges, etc.) and coconuts can be poisonous or cause stomach upset and should be avoided by pets.
It’s not just about what these individual ingredients can do, however. Retailers should also pay close attention to how fruits and vegetables are added to pet products. Whole, minimally processed ingredients pack the best nutritional value, says Bachkora.
“If you cook less and process less, you actually get more nutritional value and at a much higher level than when you cook,” he explains.
Independent research is certainly an important part of becoming a category expert, but retailers don’t have to go all alone. Partnering with trusted brands can also be a good source of education and training.
For example, Loving Pets “prioritizes communication and education for its distributors and retailers and always wants to offer training and merchandising that help inform, increase sales, encourage a variety of options to clearly communicate benefits and also have transparent ingredients to prioritize, ”says Abbey.
Generate strong sales
Given the variety of fruits and vegetables and the increasing number of pet products with fresh produce, it is easy to see that owners are overwhelmed. That’s why expert recommendations are one of the best selling tools for this category.
“Discussing the topics pet parents ask about every day – think skin health, urinary tract health, joint health, immune health, and so on – can make it easier to make a recommendation,” advises Kumbier.
When making recommendations, it is important to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all option.
“Dogs and cats are individuals with individual wellness and healing needs,” said Susan Goldstein, co-founder of Earth Animal. “By investing enough time and asking the right questions, it will be effortless to find an appropriate and nutritional match.”
Retailers should remember to meet consumers where they are. For some, that might mean they’re ready to make the big switch to a more balanced food. For others, it could mean taking smaller steps and adding toppers or treats.
“Food toppers or treats are a great solution because retailers get that extra sale instead of trying to distract a consumer from a food they’re happy with,” says Bachkora.
Another smart way to help customers transition to fruit and vegetable products is to provide samples via in-store demonstrations.
“Set up a demo table with fresh products and integrate suitable foods and dietary supplements with fruit and vegetables,” advises Dr. Goldstein. “Literature should contain the nutritional benefits of each.”
While there is still a long way to go to educate pets about their need for fruits and vegetables, consumer interest in a more balanced diet is growing all the time.
“We see the future that fruits and vegetables will be incorporated into pet foods and treats to keep following human trends. The humanization of treats for all pets (not just dogs) continues to evolve from a trend to something that will last. “Says Abbey.
“I think the future looks really bright for the category,” adds Bachkora. “I think there will be more foods, toppers, or treats based on fresh fruits and vegetables to add all the nutrients really needed for a holistic approach to pet body performance.” PB