Interview with Sari Remer – DogChewz NYC
Sari Remer, president of DogChewz NYC, turned a tragedy into an opproutnity. In 2007, Remer’s dog became ill after consuming contaminated chicken jerky treats from overseas. To help prevent more pet owners from going through Remer’s experience, DogChewz NYC manufactures dog treats in the US using healthy ingredients and abiding by stringent safety guidelines. Remer has made a point of educating consumers and retailers about being selective when it comes to treat safety and building trust that DogChewz NYC treats are non-threatening for pets.
How is DogChewz NYC addressing consumers’ demands for cleaner, healthier dog treats?
We’ve always provided healthy dog treats. I’ve always used organic ingredients and they’ve always been made in the US. We only use ingredients that are sourced here in the US. One thing I’ve done differently, is I’ve changed my packaging to have much larger letters to draw attention to the fact our treats are made in the US, our ingredients are all-natural and our ingredient list is short. This way the consumer can see right away on the label that our treats are made in the US, and on back of the package, they can read our short list of ingredients that are organic.
How does your company determine which ingredients to use?
I try to use products that offer health benefits. We use organic oat products, which are very healthy in fiber and can help lower cholesterol. There’s fruit, including blueberries and apples, in some of the products, which contain antioxidants. Additionally, the cinnamon in the carob has health benefits as well. Tomato in the pizza has the lycopene, which is also an antioxidant, and the agave is a sugar substitute that can be ingested by someone with diabetes. You don’t want to have a lot of it, but a dog with diabetes can have treats sweetened with agave and get some sweetener, along with another source of antioxidants.
Why is this focus on offering pets increasingly nutritious and clean diets so important to pet owners?
I think because of the humanization of our pets and the fact that pets have become even more perceived as family members rather than “pets.” I also think because people themselves are also eating healthier and are much more aware of the importance of healthy diet and healthy snacks. Furthermore there continues to be a backlash from the dogs that have been made sick from products from China. Actually, my first dog died in 2007 from eating one of those affected chicken breast treats from China. Back then nobody knew about the threat, because that’s when it started.
What have been effective methods retailers have used to educate consumers about treat safety and how your company is ensuring treats are safe for pets?
One of the things retailers have done, which doesn’t necessarily fall in the realm of educating consumers, but a lot of stores are just not carrying certain products anymore. These retailers are letting consumers know that they’re focusing on healthy products and not carrying that other kind of treat. As far as our treats, they’ll show the consumer the ingredient list is very, very short and there are no chemical names in the ingredient list. There’s nothing included in our ingredients that you can’t immediately recognize what it is. Everything is natural – bacon, aged Parmesan cheese – it’s very straightforward. Consumers aren’t worried about our treats because of what’s in them, because we’ve been around awhile and there’s been a lot of world of mouth promoting our treats.
How does DogChewz NYC strengthen trust amongst retailers and consumers when it comes to ensuring your treats are safe?
I let consumers and retailers know where our treats are made. Our treats are made from our recipes at a large manufacturer who uses safe products. In fact, the manufacturer is working on obtaining USDA certification. We let people know our treats are made in the US and the ingredients are from the US, except for the cinnamon and carob. We also let people know we feed these treats to our own dogs. I’ve never heard anyone complain. I feel confident our treats are safe because there are so few ingredients in the treats. I’ve actually had customers eat them and let their consumers know they eat them too.