Pet Insight caught up with Jennifer Boniface, animal nutritionist and owner of Aunt Jeni’s Home Made. Boniface discusses how simplicity and fewer ingredients are key to offering safe treats and how Made in the US has been the company’s focus from its inception.
How is Aunt Jeni’s Home Made addressing consumers’ demands for cleaner, healthier dog treats?
Our treats are simple. We start with the highest quality meats, poultry and fish and simply dehydrated them into treats. We don’t add anything – no grains or fillers, no coloring, no preservatives, no additives of any kind. The treats are single ingredient so that customers with allergic pets can safely select a treat that won’t trigger a reaction in their pets.
How does your company determine which ingredients to use?
We specialize in the unusual and find our customers respond to our ingenuity. For example, there is no one else dehydrating whole fish as pet treats; pets go crazy for them, and pet owners love the simplicity and uniqueness of the item. We source our meats, poultry and fish from reliable USA producers that practice responsible husbandry including not using antibiotics or hormones. Everything we use is human-grade, diverted from the human food supply for our use in the pet industry.
Why is this focus on offering pets increasingly nutritious and clean diets so important to pet owners?
Pet owners consider their pets as members of the family, which is increasing as the Baby Boomer generation approaches their ‘empty nest’ years. Too many pet owners have experienced heartbreak resulting from tainted pet products – both foods and treats – and the fear generated by frequent recalls of inferior quality pet products has forced concerned pet owners into arming themselves with more knowledge to ask the tough questions of their pet product suppliers. Knowledgeable pet owners have seen the benefits of feeding all-natural clean diets that don’t contain antibiotics or hormones, no synthesized vitamins and minerals, no grains or fillers and no artificial ingredients. These benefits include fewer trips to the vet, pets with more energy, shinier coats, cleaner teeth and fewer allergies. Feeding single-source treats along with an all-natural, grain-free, raw diet without anything artificial or synthetic, that is formulated to meet the AAFCO nutritional levels for all stages of life for cats and dogs is a no-brainer to any pet owner who has a pet with allergies.
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?
We have been banging the ‘Made in the USA’ drum since our inception 16 years ago, and in recent years this designation has become increasingly important to pet owners. There is a perception that products made in our own country are safer for our pets. Not only ‘made’ but also ‘sourced’ in the USA is displayed on all of our product packaging, website and printed materials. Knowing we have done the legwork to both source and make our products within the USA gives our customers peace of mind and confidence in purchasing and using our products. Aunt Jeni’s Home Made is synonymous with all-natural. Our retailers know and trust that we provide only the healthiest products for our pets, and we provide retailers with educational and informational items so that the customers are well-informed. Our website and Facebook page provide educational and informative materials for both retailers and customers.
How does Aunt Jeni’s Home Made strengthen trust amongst retailers and consumers when it comes to ensuring your treats are safe?
We have a reputation for providing safe, high-quality products and we have never had a single recall in 16 years. All of our products are tested to make sure there are no pathogens and they are taste-tested by our own pets. Retailers and customers alike feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns, knowing that they will reach a real, live, knowledgeable person. Our phones are manned by trained, qualified staff who can provide answers and advice.