The wild and wacky side of petfood

A truly novel new pet treat ingredient and a test of a new delivery system could be game-changers for petfood – or not

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If you’re one of the people who believes nothing truly new or innovative is happening with petfood, take heart: At least two recent announcements – one for a new dog treat, the other about a new way to deliver dog food – should lift your spirits. And, perhaps, tickle your funny bone or have you shaking your head in disbelief …

First comes big news from Fruitables Pet Food, Vetscience’s dog treats brand based in Dallas, Texas, USA. While the company has always offered unique flavors – pineapple bacon, watermelon, coconut yogurt – its latest announcement is about a truly novel ingredient for pet treats.

Are you ready? It’s … snowflakes. Yes, just in time for the holidays, Fruitables is launching Vanilla Snowflake Crunchy Dog Treats, “made with real snowflakes” and promising that every pouch will contain “300 perfectly unique snowflakes sustainably harvested from the mountains in Crested Butte, Colorado.”

As marketing gimmicks go, it certainly is new. And I’m always a sucker for tongue-in-cheek campaigns – which I think this is. (Right? Isn’t it?) These are actual dog treats, offering a “pumpkin granola & yogurt combination,” a snowflake shape and only 9 calories per treat. So, if dog owners find the gimmick fun and opt to buy the treats as a stocking stuffer for their furry family members, then more power to Fruitables and its marketing team.

And, to be serious for a moment here, I do believe petfood is ripe for new ingredients. Several people in the industry, including me, have commented for a few years now that, while major pet trade shows such as Global Pet Expo and Interzoo feature plenty of new petfood product launches, few of the products are really new – as in, game-changers that will shake up the market or at least their respective categories,

So, I was excited to see the Interzoo offer of a new dog food with “100% insect protein base” from Jonker Petfood, a private label manufacturer based in the Netherlands. With demands for protein continually increasing for both human and pet diets, straining supplies of traditional sources and sending prices skyrocketing, it’s heartening to see a company attempt to base a product on a truly alternative source. So far, no news on whether any of Jonker’s clients is planning to launch such a product.

Yet there is more news in petfood, and this other recent announcement appears to be completely serious, making it even wackier than the treats with snowflakes. As part of its Project Wing program to develop drones for product delivery, Google conducted a test of a drone prototype by doing a dog food drop to an Australian farm. You can even watch a video (narrated by someone from Google named Astro Teller, naturally) of this great moment in petfood delivery history.

Now I’m being tongue in cheek. I actually find it interesting that drones may possibly be used someday for delivery of everyday goods, and considering how online sales of petfood are growing, why not consider this in the delivery mix at some point? But Google stresses that an actual drone delivery system is still “years away,” and judging by the size of the “dog food” package delivered in the video, I’d have to agree. That amount of dog food is not going to keep any dog satisfied or healthy for long.





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