Chewy.com may be preparing to sell frozen raw pet food online, speculated Ellyce Rothrock, editor-in-chief of Pet Product News in her blog. Her detective work to reach this conclusion started when a pet food retailer, B.C. Henschen of Platinum Paws in Indiana, told her that Chewy.com had installed a freezer in Indiana for Midwest distribution. What’s more Henschen said Chewy had opened a frozen raw pet food category on its website, but then closed it down.
The possibility of online sales of frozen raw pet food concerned Henschen.
“My first concern is the pets,” Henschen said in Pet Product News. “Feeding frozen or raw takes a real conversation with the pet owner to ensure their pet gets exactly what it needs and the owner gets the steps required for feeding frozen. Without that, the pet owner may not see the benefits and condemn the category.”
The threat of losing business also concerned him. He worried that frozen raw pet food buyers would come in to a pet food specialty store only for their first purchase, then buy subsequent supplies of frozen raw pet food online. Pet food specialty stores would suffer from this “first bag syndrome,” since pet food retailers would spend time educating consumers who would end up being customers of low-overhead online sellers.
Other dog and cat food retailers had concerns for the safety of shipping frozen raw pet food. A Chicago-based pet food retailer, AdreAnne Tesene of Two Bostons, worried that the logistics could break down. She worried that the frozen raw pet food could get too warm during shipping, which would create a product safety risk and reduce food quality.
Pet owners want a lot from their pet food brands. They want primary proteins that suit what they believe is best for their animal. They want grains or they don't. They want something customized, but it has to be easy to understand.
Constraints and crises, like those experienced in 2020, help drive innovation and sustainability offers context.