The launch of Selective Naturals treats has been hugely successful. Now manufacturer Supreme Petfoods is riding the crest of the wave and taking the brand one step further by going grain-free. The move follows feedback from almost 700 owners of small pets who gave the concept a resounding thumbs up, with 93% saying they believed that there was a benefit to feeding grain-free.
Marketing manager Claire Hamblion says the findings herald exciting times for retailers, “We’ve never seen such strong support for a product proposition and the need is just not currently being met in the UK, If you thought Naturals were good for business, just wait and see what Naturals Grain Free does!”
The company carried out the online survey in July and found emphatic support for the natural category, with 97% saying they would like to feed natural food which they perceived to be food that included grass or hay, wild or foraged ingredients and plain, simple ingredients.
Asked what made a food for their pet healthy, rabbit and guinea pig owners ranked nutritionally balanced, high fibre and natural as their top three but almost a quarter also included grain-free.
Asked what cereals they would look for in a food, an overwhelming 71% said they would choose grain-free. They also explained their motivations for their choice – 50% of respondents felt that this would be less likely to cause health problems in their pets and 35% felt the food would be easier to digest. Overall, 93% said that they believed there would be a benefit to feeding grain-free.
Perhaps surprisingly, almost one third felt that rabbit foods were too cheap and said they would prefer to pay more for higher quality and 52% said there wasn’t enough choice, showing that there is still plenty to play for in this category.
When asked what ingredients they would like to see feature less often, most stated that they would like to see sugary ingredients and cereals banished from their pet’s food.
Claire Hamblion, Supreme Marketing Manager, says the results could not be clearer, “Based on this feedback we’ve developed a food that really fits the bill. Selective Grain Free is fully extruded and respects the natural diet by being rich in tasty Timothy Hay and garden vegetables and contains no corn or wheat. It’s high in fibre and contains vitamins and minerals for nutritional balance with no added sugars or artificial colours.”
The survey also provided useful data on the demographic profile of the typical rabbit and guinea pig owner. The 25-34 age group was most representative, accounting for almost 40% of respondents, while the 35-44 age group accounted for around one in five. Claire says that retailers need to be aware of the high lifetime value of these pet owners, “We noticed a very high level of multipet ownership, with one in three also owning a cat and one in three also owning a dog. This backs up our previous research and highlights the importance of catering for their needs as a one-stop shop for food for all their pets.”
Retailers are advised to get their orders in for Selective Grain Free, which will be the only grain-free rabbit or guinea pig food available in the UK, as early as possible. Claire says production is already gearing up to meet demand at the company’s Suffolk base, “Selective Naturals treats literally flew off the shelves and we fully anticipate that Grain Free could be even bigger. The evidence is there and retailers can feel confident that by making a big song and dance about grain free that they can encourage some really high-value customers through the door. Everybody wins.”
Supreme Petfoods was the first company to make species specific small animal diets that reflected their unique nutritional requirements. The Supreme range includes Science Selective, which is widely recommended by veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses. As well as offering the biggest range of species specific foods, Supreme also manufactures all its herbivore diets in dedicated vegetarian facilities. Only ingredients of the highest quality are sourced for use in the Supreme range of foods and the recipes are developed to be palatable without the use of added sugar. Supreme recipes are all manufactured to a fixed formula to minimise the risk of gastric upset and while the company produces diets containing the highest fibre levels of any rabbit food, hay is always recommended as an additional food source to promote dental wear, provide environmental enrichment, foraging and nesting opportunities.