Pet Insight 2023 Category Catalysts: Air-Dried Foods, ZIWI November 14, 2023

Pet Insight 2023 Category Catalysts: Air-Dried Foods, ZIWI

Air-dried pet foods manufacturers operate in a sweet spot of transition, supporting pet owners as they figure out how to best introduce and shift their beloved pets to a more whole nutritional regiment. Leaders like ZIWI don’t take this position for granted, ensuring they are using the best quality ingredients to create functional nourishment, innovating feeding options to support trial and conversion and communicating effectively the care and thought behind each of their products.

“We’ve been working hard on educating retailers and consumers about not only the nutritional benefits of air-dried food, but also the functional benefits,” said Senior Marketing Manager Jessica Krueger. “Many pet parents aren’t quite sure how to enter the alternative-to-raw world, and products like ZIWI Peak provide the perfect solution. Our air-dried recipes are designed to work as a treat, topper or complete and balanced meal, so pet parents can take a phased approach into leveling up their pets’ bowl. This then provides a wider window of opportunity for retailers to recruit new consumers to the alternative-to-raw space, helping increase that basket value over time and in a paced manner for the consumer.”

This win-win arrangement isn’t possible without the input and support of retailers as well. “We’ve seen incredible growth in retailers’ digital presence in the past few years,” said Krueger. “When the pandemic hit, retailers got creative in finding solutions like curbside pickup or even local delivery to help tailor to their consumers’ needs. Growing on that momentum, we’ve seen impressive initiatives move forward on social channels, web stores and overall digital strategies, with many retailers finding creative ways and tools to increase engagement with the communities they serve. Driving consumers in store through digital channels can be tricky in this digital age; however retailers are persevering, and we are proud to help provide them support, resources and tools to succeed in doing so.”

With retailer support, the air-dried category continues to grow, and ZIWI has noted an increasing tendency for pet owners to seek out pet food not just for nutrition but also to address specific problems.Consumers are looking for products that specifically address common health ailments like skin and coat health, heart health, brain function, mobility and so on,” she said. “While our air-dried range does not feature those benefits on the front of the packaging, when you turn it around, you’ll see the proof in our ingredients. With 96 percent meat, organs, bones and New Zealand green-lipped mussels, we pack in natural glucosamine, chondroitin, taurine and omegas to help pets exude peak vitality.”

These ingredient call-outs certainly grab consumers’ attention, so much so that in the last year, ZIWI has been met by the need to increase production to meet demand. “We’ve certainly seen an uptick in new to brand consumers shopping with ZIWI which has created the need for manufacturing in larger volumes,” said Krueger. “This year, we have made investments into our New Zealand kitchens and canneries to ensure we can meet our new level of demand more swiftly and create a seamless farm, to kitchen, to bowl sequence in a more efficient manner. We’ve been able to reap those benefits in our canned wet products for dogs and cats and are well on our way to re-saturating our air-dried supply across the market. We have placed great emphasis on not cutting corners when it comes to our peak ingredients, processes and recipes, which is a testament to how great things take time, and soon we will be running again at full speed with plenty of inventory to go around.”

Thanks to these points of differentiation, ZIWI rises to the occasion of sharing shelf space with other premium brands at pet specialty retail. “In pet specialty, you are placed amongst other high-end and high-quality products,” said Krueger. “You have to tell the story of your product in a way that resonates with the consumer and show them how this can impact their pets’ health and overall lives. The consumer base that shops amongst pet specialty stores tends to also be more educated about their animal’s health and well-being, so you are oftentimes communicating at a different level than you would the traditional mass shopper.”

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