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Forget kibbles: US sales of fresh pet food are soaring



DETROIT (AP) – Kibbles for Fido? Nope. These days he is getting diced chicken with sweet potatoes and spinach. U.S. pet owners are feeding fresh food to their dogs and cats. Some order pre-proportioned meals…

DETROIT (AP) – Kibbles for Fido? Nope. These days he is getting diced chicken with sweet potatoes and spinach.

US. pet owners are feeding fresh food to their dogs and cats. Some order pre-proportioned meals of meat and vegetables or frozen raw meat online. Walmart

Later this spring, Petco and its partner, California-based JustFoodForDogs, will open a kitchen at its flagship store in New York where it expects to make 2,000 pounds of fresh pet food. every day.

Proponents say nutrients are better than canned or dried ones, mimic ancestral diet and improve health.

"Just as people have become skeptical of highly processed foods for themselves, they're looking critically at their pets' foods as well, ”said Amy Zalneraitis, owner and chief brand officer of We Feed Raw, a 1

0-year-old raw food meal plan service based in Maine. “They think: How could something with a life of over year be better than real, fresh food?”

But some veterinarians question the trend. They say established pet food companies like 51-year-old Royal Canin are backed by decades of research, while the verdict is still out on fresh food.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says raw pet food has a high risk of bacterial contamination. The agency is also investigating a link between grain-free diets that contain peas, lentils and potatoes and elevated levels of heart disease in dogs.

"There are so many essential nutrients, from all different classes, that need to be considered. "Said Dr. Lindsey Bullen, a pet nutrition specialist with the Veterinary Specialist Hospital of the Carolinas. “If they are too high or too low, or in an inappropriate proportion, it can cause significant problems for the client that may not be seen for months or years to come.” [B659003] Bullen says about 20 percent or her clients feed their pets fresh food. When they do, they say they are following essential nutrients. Canine and feline supplements can help round out fresh meals.

Pet food trends tail human ones. When gravy was popular in the 1950s, Gravy Train dog food appeared. In the 1980s, Fancy Feast cat food mirrored a growing interest in gourmet food.

This time, younger buyers are fueling the trend, choosing pet foods they consider safer and more natural, says consulting firm Mintel.

U.S. sales of fresh pet food in groceries and pet stores jumped 70 percent to more than $ 546 million between 2015 and 2018, according to Nielsen, a data company. This includes online sales or people making their own fresh pet food. It's just a fraction of the $ 25 trillion US pet food market

Deb Colgan was initially hesitant when she caught her husband feeding raw meat to her two German shepherds seven years ago. But after researching the benefits, they started buying raw meat and bones from the grocery. She works with her vet and adds supplements like vitamin E, salmon oil, probiotics and a joint supplement.

One of her dogs is stopped regularly and gaining weight. The other stopped getting ear and urinary tract infections. Those dogs eventually died, but the Colgans have continued the diet with two new dogs.

"It is very much a relief they are so healthy, and we believe it's because how they eat," said Colgan, or Oconomowoc, Wis. “I can imagine ever going back to commercial.”

Feeding pets raw food is the most expensive option. According to Nielsen data, the average fresh pet food costs $ 5.26 per pound, while the average frozen raw pet food is $ 6.23 per pound.

Colgan spends $ 300 a month on three 10-pound rolls of meat plus vegetables, fruit, fish and freeze-dried dog treats. By comparison, 30 pounds of Freshpet Vital brand turkey, peas carrots and rice, which is sold in refrigerated tubes, costs around $ 85. $ 33.79 on Amazon.com

NomNomNow, which makes pre-proportional fresh meals specific to each pet, says its service costs $ 2.60 to $ 3.80 per meal for $ 35. pound dog and $ 1.50 to $ 2.80 per meal for a 12-pound cat. That's a lot more than a 55-cent can of Friskies, but it's in line with some prescription pet foods.

The San Francisco-based company, which was founded four years ago, says it's making hundreds of thousands of meals per month and delivering them to customers in 48 states.

"The general health consciousness of Americans is transferring to their pets, because we consider pets as part of our family," said Lynn Hubbard, the general manager of NomNomNow's Nashville production facility.

Jesse, a pitbull lab mix from Austin, Texas, suffered from diarrhea, vomiting and itchy skin for most of her seven years. Vet thread steroids, which stopped the itching but made her gain weight. Her owner, Lanay Kibodeaux, tried to feed her and feed her raw food, but that didn't ease her problems either.

So Kibodeaux turned to NomNomNow, which developed a specialized diet for Jesse and sent her four recipes on a rotating basis. Her health has been improved, and she's off steroids, says Kibodeaux. And she likes the food better than the meals Kibodeaux was fixing for here.

"She literally will ship to the bowl and keep the bowl after she's done," said Kibodeaux, a senior administrative assistant at the University of Texas. "It's just the answer to prayers for me."

AP Video Journalists Carrie Antlfinger in Oconowoc, Wis., Allen G. Breed in Cary, N.C. and Kristin Hall in Nashville contributed to this story.

Copyright © 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.


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