The future of the raw pet food industry
Raw foods will continue to be for the breeder who is looking to develop perfect traits in his animal. More importantly, it will also be for the individual who totally love their pets and want only the best for them. Raw diets will have to compete with a plethora of advertising from large dry kibble producers pulling at the heartstrings of consumers. Because the consumer is getting saavy about their own nutrition many people will continue to use raw food. Holistic vets and nutritionists with knowledge will get the message out. The attribute of raw diets will become more of common knowledge to many pet owners. The challenges of making a high-quality raw diet will be extensive. First, keep in mind raw meat pet foods are expensive. This is because the ingredients are expensive (Steve's, for instance, uses all human-quality ingredients); the processing is much slower than extrusion, extrusion produces 8 tons per hour, can't get near that sense we are dealing with frozen ingredients. We have to ship in freezer trucks, to distributors who have to have freezer space, to retailers who have to have freezer space. Frozen raw pet food is an expensive product to manufacture, ship and store!
The changes we are seeing now are an increase in consumer knowledge. People are becoming educated on the benefits of healthy eating and are realizing that this applies to your pets also. Raw meat-based diets are picking up market share, perhaps significant market share, in the $17 billion U.S. pet food industry. Raw meat-based diets, because of their costs, will increase the dollar size of the pet food market. Mainstream manufacturers are starting raw lines and retailers from small independents or large big box stores are starting to carry a raw dog food line.
The low-cost grain-based foods are starting to lose market share. Consumers are moving to an all-natural kibble or even a super premium meat-based kibble. Shortly after they start mixing in a raw meat food, the consumer starts to see the benefits of the raw meat and before you know it, that is all they will feed. The biggest roadblock to a raw diet is the cost. However, when you look at the amount of nutrition per dollar vs. quantity per dollar you will see that the raw meat diet is affordable.
How will the low cost kibble manufacturers respond?
The traditional industry may attack us on cost: or may want to state that they believe that their products are almost as good for 1/2 the cost. All dog owners and leading-edge people will respect them for that. We will, of course, debate it.
But, invariable, just as Science Diet® and Iams®, 20 to 30 years ago said, move over industry, better foods are here, so do we.
"The cooking of meat is a waste of time from the point of view of nutrition." - Clive McKay Professor of Nutrition at Cornell University in his 1944 book, Nutrition of the Dog, the standard veterinarian school textbook on canine nutrition in the 1940s and 1950s.