How Wagging Companions Plant-Based Dog Treats Are Helping Pets Everywhere

Natasha Sidhu loves her dogs. Having been an animal person for years, she got tired of buying her four-legged friends treats that had ingredients she couldn’t pronounce or were made with animal byproducts that didn’t scream “healthy.” So, she harnessed her entrepreneurial spirit and decided to make her own. Thus, Wagging Companions was born. 

Wagging Companions is Canada’s plant-based and human-grade dog food company, based in Toronto, ON, Canada. After seeing her dogs’ bowls sit full of processed store-bought food, Natasha noticed her furry friends wanted the food her family was cooking at home. Although the dogs were very happy after getting table food, Natasha knew that canines have different dietary needs than humans. 

“One of the main causes of dogs’ ill health is their diet. People don’t intentionally give their dogs the food they think will hurt them, but we need to be more aware of what we’re feeding them if we want to prolong their health.”

After getting laid off from her job due to the pandemic, Natasha found herself at home wondering about her next move. “I was working in IT, but lost my job due to COVID. I was actively looking for jobs, and making treats for my dog who LOVES food and won’t even look at store bought treats anymore.”

She started sharing the treats with family and friends. Natasha continued, “I was making a lot…I was just making big batches and giving them away. It was something to do and a lot of people started saying I should sell them on the side while still looking for a job.” 

Natasha said it got bigger than even she anticipated. In the span of two months, she was making recipes and taking them to labs to get them tested.

Building a dog treat brand in the middle of a pandemic isn’t easy 

After taking a leap of faith, Natasha has been moving on a rocket ship with Wagging Companions, “When I started looking into the market, I wasn’t able to sell unless they were tested at a lab with a certified guaranteed analysis. At that time, since the product was so small, the testing didn’t seem that expensive, and if I was going to continue feeding this to my dog, I might as well just get them tested anyways.” 

After sending her treats in to make sure they hit the mark, Natasha was confident that it was worth investing her time into building her new brand, “I took ingredients that made sense and just threw everything together. And if the consistency worked, it worked. I was lucky that I kind of got the recipes right the first, maybe second shot. They came together so perfectly.” 

After finalizing recipes, Natasha went all in as she’d planned, “Unintentionally I stopped looking for a job in my field. I invested in building a legit website and put all my focus into building my company.”

The journey of Wagging Companions’ brand identity is still growing, still developing, and Natasha doesn’t see it as just a dog food company. It’s a holistic brand that changes the lives of animals around the world for the better.

“I’ve been a pet lover all my life. Once I got this going, I started researching and a lot of things came to the surface. For  the last few years, my dream has been to eventually open dog shelters in developing parts of the world to help provide medical and basic care to animals in need. A plant-based dog food company seems like the perfect opportunity to step in that direction. As we slowly scale higher, we thought it would be impactful right now to take a portion of our profits and give them to organizations around Canada, India and Egypt to help dogs in need.”

Success, one bag of treats at a time 

Natasha continued, “We started donating resources to organizations within Canada, and then also started contributing to two organizations in developing countries: India and Egypt, which seems to be where it’s needed the most. We donate 5% of our profits towards shelters and rescue organizations.”

After seeing the impact she was making, Natasha decided to keep donating on an even larger scale, to achieve things like building shelters and rescuing dogs. “I would need an exponential amount of funding to do that. This is the perfect line of work to achieve that goal. I want to make sure dogs everywhere have a nutritious meal, a warm place to sleep, and access to medical care. This company was never about generating revenue for my personal gain. It’s always been a way to give back to the world and make a difference in the lives of helpless animals.”

With her brand on the path, Natasha made more moves toward seeing the brand become legitimate. She put in personal investment, and began working with a digital marketing agency who helped shape the design of the brand, both in packaging and online.

From brown paper bags to store-ready packaging

And since then, she’s learned a lot about running the company and what it takes to market it correctly. “I took inspiration from a human snack business who were using these brown paper bags that were sustainable and recyclable. I had our product labels made and stuck them on the bags, and that was our first product packaging.”

Then one day Natasha received a message from Guardian’s Best, a non-profit rescue organization. “They told me about an outdoor market they were doing at a dog park. At this point, we were still only selling to friends and family. I agreed to do the event, and they told me I needed to bring a few branded supplies”

Being at the event was an eye-opener. “That was the first time I was out there, speaking about my products. We sold out of everything. I’d only brought 30-40 bags, but more people wanted to try them. So, I had to direct everyone to the website. After that, we hit all the small business-friendly events.” 

But, when it was time to level up the brand again, Natasha considered her dog treat packaging. Could she make it better? What seemingly small things could she do to amplify her treats in the market?

“At the beginning of the pandemic, when a lot of people had started businesses, sustainable brown paper bags were trending. However, we had connected with another local dog food company as we saw that they’d changed their packaging. This company changed its packaging, posted it on Instagram, and tagged ePac. It really stood out to me and I reached out to ePac.”

According to Natasha, their process at the time was a mess. “I was getting bags from one supplier, and I was getting labels printed from another supplier. Then I’d physically stick on the labels to the bags, which would take me hours.” 

The process was something she wasn’t anticipating. But it turned out to be a game-changer. “I found a new designer to amplify our labels. We already loved our old labels, but wanted a little more pizazz. I sent over our old designs and they helped me make everything look better while still keeping our original idea. It was perfect, right off the bat. I don’t even think we made any changes.” 

Wagging Companions in 2022 and beyond 

Despite the brand’s success and the new packaging being precisely what she’d wanted, there was still more demand and work. “We ran out of supplies due to material shortages. During the holidays, we sold out of our last stock and went on a little bit of a break. Then people started messaging us through social media and asking, `Why is everything out of stock,’ and things haven’t slowed down since.” 

When it comes to how ePac is the perfect partner for Wagging Companions, Natasha is thoughtful. She sees the brand keeping its strong reputation moving forward, thanks to focusing on the details, ensuring customers get what they paid for. 

“The pouches are vacuum sealed, and then once consumers open it, they can reseal the packages, because our products do have to be refrigerated because they have no added chemicals or preservatives. We ship all packages with insulated shipping boxes. We add two gel packs and a temp guard. It’s insulated, and then it stays at the optimal temperature during transit. It’s perfect. We package and then ship the next day. We are made to order – we want everything to arrive fresh for our pupstomers.”

Wagging Companions has a long future if the boss lady has anything to say about it. Her vision for the brand extends long past her home in Canada. “In an ideal world, we’ll release our dog food in 2022. We’d also like to start shipping to the States. We remain dedicated to selling healthy dog food that’s plant-based, and good for dogs of all ages. Once we can build that, we’d love to open our shelter and help provide medical care.”

Natasha added, “We never wanted to use plastic in our packaging because we want everything sustainable. However, due to our perishable products, a small amount of plastic in our packaging is unavoidable. To compensate, we work with an organization called rePurpose Global, whose sole mission is to remove ocean-bound plastic from the environment. Additionally, we work with One Tree Planted to plant three trees for every order placed.”

If there’s anything you can learn from Wagging Companions is that the company is dedicated to the cause of helping make a difference, both big and small. And we’re glad to be a part of their journey. 

How WereWoof is Building its Brand – one Howl at a Time

No small business story is the same. Sometimes, an idea for a business can spring up from an accidental moment of clarity, while other times, someone has spent years trying to mastermind a plan to work for themselves. In the case of Cierra Thompson of WereWoof, she started her business through a shared love of animals with her late father, but also by asking herself a transformative question: “What makes me happy?”

After floating between Chicago and Los Angeles, Thompson worked as an Artist Manager  but still felt like something was missing. She went as far as to go to veterinary school at the University of Chicago. But, when she realized she didn’t love the life of cat scratches and dog whimpers, she decided that career path wasn’t for her. 

After the tragic passing of her father, Thompson retreated into her past and her adoration for her dad. “When dad passed away, it rekindled my love for him in different ways. I love to bake. He loved to bake. When I was in LA, I was fostering dogs, and I got really into it for a couple of years. When my dad died, I thought about what made me truly happy: baking and dogs. So, that’s how WereWoof got started. I wanted to honor dad but be true to what I loved more than anything.”

Because Thompson’s father loved the supernatural, she leaned into the idea of her brand being something different, something beyond the ordinary. “We had a name before WereWoof it was Bark Bite, there were legal complications. I went back to the drawing board. I landed on WereWoof because my dad loved anything supernatural. He was really into BigFoot, aliens, all of that. But dogs were my thing, so how could I connect them? I came up with Wolf at first, and that wasn’t original. When the idea for WereWoof hit me, I jumped right into it.” 

Once Thompson had the idea of what she wanted to create, she set off on crafting a brand image that was reflective of not only her interests but keeping the spirit of her father alive as well. “I got to work on creating a logo, the packaging, all of that, and I started messing around in Photoshop. I never took a class or anything, and I learned everything from YouTube and Google.” 

Taking on the dog treats industry, one WereWoof Bite at a time

In the spirit of being an entrepreneur, Thompson kept grinding. She had the idea, the name, the look, but had to center in on what would make her product’s identity stand out. What would an actual WereWoof Bite taste like?

“My dad made a mean sweet potato pie every Thanksgiving. So that was in my head for inspiration. That’s how I came up with Slobbary Treats. I started playing around with the treats. I started playing with how I can make sweet potatoes delicious for dogs. I wanted everything to be gluten-free. I’d never played with gluten-free flour before in my life – that was an experience. I had his recipe, so I had to find the substitutes that worked, the right flour that would mix with kind of the same ingredients that he would use, but more dog friendly.” 

Thompson kept working at making sure her dog treats were what she envisioned, “I wanted my treats to be healthy. That was important. We didn’t want sugar added, either. I wanted healthy dog treats, which in many cases, the big-name brands aren’t the healthiest thing for our pets. I didn’t want WereWoof to be like that.”

After nailing down the first formula for the Slobbary Treats, Thompson got to work on her next flavor, which came out of nowhere. 

“I came up with MoonBerry, which is cheese and blueberries. That was on a whim. I didn’t know how to actually put cheese and blueberries together. It sounded good in my head, so I tried it. I knew I wanted my treats to be soft because a lot of dogs I fostered didn’t have many teeth, especially some that came from Mexico when I was in LA. I wanted to make sure older dogs could enjoy them. A lot of natural dog treats are hard and I wanted my treats to be something a dog of any age could eat. Eventually, once I got the flavors correct, I worked with a food scientist to make sure the ingredients were safe. We have human taste testers before we had dog taste testers.”

At first, Thompson sold her products to her network, making everything in small batches in her kitchen. But once she got the formula right, she branched out, testing the waters of what her product could be, how it could differentiate itself amongst others. 

“It was just me in my kitchen. That’s all I had. I jumped into stuff. I didn’t go to any farmer’s markets, which I should have, but I didn’t. I wanted it to be perfect. I’m a person that wants everything to be right the first time. I needed it to be right, especially with the packaging. I experimented with packaging to send to family and friends, who were my first customers, but the packaging wasn’t right for the treats. They were causing them to lose their shape and get moldy.” 

Thompson continued with her quest for the proper pet food packaging for WereWoof. “I scrapped that packaging and I was like, let me find an actual company that knows what I’m getting into. I did a lot of research to know what kind of packaging I wanted to go with, like recyclable or PCR, or regular bags. I had an Excel sheet of 25 companies to reach out to, but honestly, I never reached out to anyone besides ePac, because I saw an article about another dog treat company. I read and I was like okay, this is a big brand. If they’re comfortable working with this company (ePac), then maybe I should do the same, and that’s what I did.”

The right packaging does make the difference 

The flavors were there, people liked the product, and now, Thompson was ready to bring WereWoof to the next level with dog treat packaging that spoke to what she was trying to achieve. “I decided on PCR (Post Consumer Recycled) because sustainable packaging is important to me. The food industry is wasteful, and even though I’m a small company, any step towards the right direction is a good direction.” 

After splitting her time between Chicago and Los Angeles, Thompson decided the right place to build the WereWoof brand was to return home to Indiana, where costs weren’t so high. Most importantly, she could work without a lot of red tape that plagues bigger cities. “In Indiana, I can bake and cook a lot easier. You have to have a commercial kitchen or a co-packer in LA, but that’s more expensive. I came back because I could use a commercial kitchen and will get a co-packer as I scale.”

Thompson is working toward expanding the brand daily, making sure she’s working with top-tier partners to see her vision executed. “I want to stand out on the shelves. When I first started working with ePac, I sent out a few promo packages, and everyone was like I didn’t expect the packaging to be this good. I even sent one to my banker. She was impressed. I thought it was gonna be like a regular, you know little bag for my stuff, but now, everything thinks the brand is a lot bigger than it really is. It looks so professional. I’m excited to see the brand grow in 2022.”

If you’re thinking about finding a packaging solution that works for your brand, we’d love to talk and see if we can help you reach your goals with one of our many sustainable options.

buck-bone-organics-pet-food-packaging-case-study

Buck Bone Organics Enjoys Elevated Customer Service with ePac Boulder

Buck Bone Organics is a family-owned company that creates dog treats from naturally shed elk, deer, and moose antlers. Jackie Steigleman and her husband Mark started the company in 2014 and are dedicated to keeping dogs happy and healthy, while ensuring as little environmental impact as possible. 

Beginnings of a Brand

Jackie and Mark ran their own garden center, but they wanted to try something new and focus on selling one product online. It was Mark who suggested they create antler chews for dogs.

“I said ‘OK, let’s give it a try… I’ll give you six months and we will see how it goes.’ And within 30 days it exploded!” said Jackie Steigleman, Co-Founder. 

The segment itself was experiencing massive growth, but it was Buck Bone Organics that set the standard for quality antler chews. 

“In the beginning there wasn’t much competition; only 10-15 companies. We were different because we focus on quality and making it simple for the consumer to buy the product, based on dog size and jaw strength. Plus, we consistently deliver a quality antler,” said Steigleman.

Since Buck Bone Organics’ success, many other antler treat companies are following suit with better quality and various size offerings. 

“Now there are hundreds of companies in the segment, but we are a pioneer and one of the largest suppliers of antler in the country right now,” said Steigleman.

Since the company was growing so quickly, in 2019 the Steiglemans decided to move the company (and the staff) from Connecticut to Bozeman, Montana to be closer to their antler source. This move alone shaved off weeks in waiting for inventory and sped up manufacturing. 

Pet Treat Packaging Challenges

Buck Bone Organics was experiencing massive growth, but in the beginning, their organic dog treat packaging just wasn’t keeping up.  

In the beginning their pouches were being manufactured in China, on an offset printer. Although the quality was great, the timeline of getting the bags in house was not. In order to be cost effective they were ordering 3 bags, and finishing off with stickers to identify the different SKUs. At first this was fine, but as the company was expanding they needed a bag that was a finished product, that they didn’t have to spend time labeling. In order to keep up with the competitive growth, it was clear it was time to make the switch to a digital printer.

They found a U.S. digital printer, but they didn’t offer the customer experience or professionalism that Buck Bone Organics was looking for. 

The company needed a digital printer that understood how to handle a growing company with 50 SKUs. 

“We needed someone to understand that we’re not a company that orders the same thing every time. We have orders coming in, some for 100, some for 100,000,” said Jessica Leslie, Graphic Designer, and VP of Production for the brand.

Buck Bone Organics Packaging with ePac

In August 2020 the brand began working with ePac, transforming its package ordering process. 

“We needed the ability to get bags in a relatively quick turnaround with good pricing and ePac did it,” said Leslie.

Being able to digitally print with a printer that understood the needs of a growing company made it easy for the brand to print small and large orders for each SKU in a single run.

With ePac’s digital printing, Buck Bone Organics could take advantage of short runs, fast turnaround, and unlimited options for colors and graphics. Since there are never any plates, they could make frequent changes to the design.

“It’s great being able to go in and alter what we need to. We have had to make artwork changes, adding holiday designs and updates per regulation changes, and it’s easy to do with digital printing,” said Leslie.

When the brand came to ePac with a barrier issue that made the bags appear sunken, ePac’s team of experts was able to quickly find a fix to make sure they had the best dog treat packaging possible. 

“We had issues with our old biscuit bag where air was escaping due to elevation and altitude changes…ePac figured it out and changed the barrier for us,” said Leslie.

The ePac and Buck Bone Organics teams were able to come together and make not just great packaging, but a partnership.

“ePac staff is easy to talk to and very personable. It’s been so important to have a good team to work with,” said Steigleman. 

Today, ePac’s Boulder, CO location creates a variety of stand-up pouches for the company’s 50 SKUs, in a range of sizes in both resealable and single-serve bags. The antler chews and biscuits are sold nationwide, online as well as in retail stores. 

Pet Food Packaging Partner

Looking for a reliable partner to digitally print your custom pet food packaging? Take advantage of all the flexible packaging solutions ePac has to offer. Call us today for a free quote. 

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The Top 6 Trends in Pet Food Packaging You Need to Know About

Pet food manufacturers are constantly looking for ways to improve their product and packaging in order to better suit the needs of pet owners. There are many trends emerging in the industry, so it’s important to stay up-to-date with what is happening.

2020 saw the COVID-19 pandemic force people to stay at home, sparking a rise in both e-commerce sales and larger packages of pet food. The convenience that comes with buying online for bulk orders only fuels this growth as owners focus on ensuring their pets’ health is top priority!

And it’s true what they say about pet food. People love their pets, but not at the expense of quality or sustainability! And with a growing number of people who want only natural and organic options for both cat foods as well as dog treats (grain-free especially), it’s no wonder that these two trends continue to rise in popularity among animal enthusiasts.

What about the packaging?

Since pet owners want premium products, it only makes sense that they would want premium packaging too. According to a study from globalmonitor.us (Pet Food Packaging Market Trends, Statistics, Growth, and Forecasts (globalmonitor.us), premium packaging plays a key role in appealing to those consumers seeking the best in dog and cat food. So, as you package your next pet food product, consider these top six must-haves to gain consumer attention and sales.

  1. Focus on freshness. 

Keeping pet food and treats fresh should be top of mind when creating the perfect pet package. Focus on using high-quality films with barrier protection to do just that, as well as using a reseal zipper. This allows consumers to securely close the bag or pouch in between feedings, which helps to keep air out and freshness in, extending the shelf life of the product inside. Plus, did you know that consumers prefer the convenience of reseal packaging? 

2Focus on using high-quality films with barrier protection to do just that, as well as using a reseal zipper. 

2. Choose convenience.

Speaking of convenience, consider adding convenience features to your pouch like a stand-up bottom, handles for easy carrying, and easy open tear notches, in addition to the aforementioned reseal zippers. Consider also that consumers love pouches for their lightweight, shatterproof quality, as well as easy portability.

3. Use a see-through window.

Consider adding a transparent window to your pet food pouch or bag so consumers to see the treats inside before they purchase. These windows are a popular choice to showcase what’s inside, and further support your claims on the label of the good stuff inside. 

Use a see-through window

4. Go for the green.

According to the study from globalmonitor.us, sustainability is a growing concern among many pet owners, impacting purchasing decisions. Consider using recyclable or compostable films, or post-consumer recycled content in your package to lessen your environmental impact. Also consider how utilizing digitally printed flexible packaging can lower your company’s carbon footprint. And lastly, did you know that using eco-friendly packaging can help to set your brand apart? Many packagers today are using sustainable packaging as a way to differentiate themselves from competitors, as sustainability plays a growing role in branding and consumer perception.

5. Opt for high-impact graphics.

Since branding and consumer perception are so important, consider how great graphics can help to get your brand noticed. Whether it’s bold and playful, or simple and clean, you know how impactful a great design can be. Use unique and creative artwork, clear images, and vibrant colors to set yourself apart from the competition. Did you know that with pouches you get 360° of space to create your design and tell the brand story? Since you’re not limited to a label, you can use every inch of your package to really capture consumer attention.

6. Choose custom pouches.

Fully branded, custom pouches speak volumes for your brand. And using high-quality materials with great graphics assures pet owners of the quality of the product inside. Since they look and feel premium, packagers today are using custom packaging like pouches to justify charging higher prices for their pet food and treats.

The ePac Difference

Did you know that according to the study mentioned above, flexible packaging is dominating the pet food market? It’s actually not surprising as the package type satisfies all of the six trends mentioned here, and more. 

We know you care about your pets like they are family, and we want to make sure their needs are met. That’s why ePac created pet food packages that have all the convenience features included for a happy customer-pet experience. If you need custom packaging, or just want more information on how to create the perfect package for your pet, contact us today!

Shameless Pets Uses Spot Gloss to Pop on Shelf

Shameless Pets is a unique dog treat brand that is out to tackle the issue of food waste. Co-Founder James Bello started the company in the Chicago area with Alex Waite in October 2018.

Prior to creating the brand, Bello was a corporate food buyer at Target where he says he saw so much food wasted. After learning even more about the issue of global food waste, Bello had the idea to make quality dog treats out of all this unused food, though he wasn’t yet sure how it could be done. 

It was fate when he met Waite, a food scientist, at a start-up event in 2017. The duo connected over the issue of food waste and their love of dogs. Together they launched Shameless Pets, a healthy dog treat company focused on using upcycled ingredients.  

Launching the Brand

In October 2018, Shameless Pets officially launched with four SKUs in mass retailers nationwide. Because the brand’s original plan was always to enter mass retailers right from the start, it took time to gear up for launch. In fact, Bello says it took them 18 months to build a solid supply chain that would be scalable as the brand grew. In that time, they also finalized the recipe, using human-grade upcycled ingredients to create the grain-free superfoods dog treats. Once the recipe was finalized, it was time to create the custom pet food packaging. 

In the beginning the brand was using a flexographic printer to create the pouches for the dog treats. It worked fine but didn’t offer the flexibility that many brands, especially start-ups, need. 

“I didn’t know anything about digital printing. We were using a flexo printer… then I got connected to ePac and it made my life way easier. It has allowed us to do smaller runs, and not have to buy into months and months of supply,” said Bello.

The brand was able to do this because ePac uses digital printing technology that allows for short runs with a fast turnaround, plus the flexibility to make changes to the package design, time and time again.

“Like any emerging brand, we listen to our customers and make changes to our packaging. With ePac and digital printing, we are able to make changes on a consistent, regular basis. We’re not stuck to the plates,” said Bello. 

Since their launch, Bello says they have been able to make quick changes to their pet food packaging design such as changing the call out on the packaging and adding secondary colors. With digital printing they were able to make changes on the fly without needing to worry about time-consuming and expensive plates.

“We’ve done it all. We have touched our bag design five times maybe since 2018. Having ePac and having someone with digital printing ability to do that has been super helpful for us,” said Bello.

Forming the Right Partnership 

For Shameless Pets, finding ePac in 2019 at a Global Pet Food Show has allowed the brand to make upgrades to their pet food packaging material and take advantage of the big benefits of digitally printed flexible packaging. ePac was able to bring other features like spot gloss, high-impact graphics, and soft touch to the packaging. Today, all the Shameless Pets products are packaged in ePac’s resealable stand up pouches with a clear window that its customers want. 

“We did a soft-touch with ePac and our customers liked that. It adds value to the packaging. We also heard from customers that they wanted to see the treats before buying them,” said Bello. “ePac has the spot gloss ability so we were able to upgrade and have that ultra-clear window on our package.”

ePac’s spot gloss capabilities allow Shameless Pets to have both gloss and matte on the same pouch. The entire pouch is soft touch matte, which would typically make the window cloudy. But with spot gloss, the pouch can be printed with an ultra-clear window with a gloss feel, while the rest of it remains the matte soft touch. 

Given Bello’s background as a buyer, and now as a brand owner, he knows the importance of the right package.

“Packaging is incredibly important for a brand. The vast majority of our business is in brick and mortar. Making sure that we show up on shelf correctly is incredibly important,” said Bello. 

As a printing partner, ePac is there to help small brands get started, grow the brand, and plan for the future.  

“Working with ePac has been great and everyone is super easy to work with. They get where we are in the brand and they understand our needs as we continue to grow. Chadd is awesome. And it’s super easy to drive down to the ePac plant,” said Bello. 

Since launching in 2018, Shameless Pets has grown and grown. Today the brand sells 20 different SKUs in 3,000 stores and has a strong web presence on the company’s website, Amazon, and on chewy.com. Even more growth is on the horizon as the brand launches a new line of calming chews for anxious dogs and even a line of cat treats. 

Finding the Right Packaging Supplier

Are you a growing brand in need of a better way to package your products? Or maybe you’re a start-up company looking to take advantage of the flexibility digitally printing allows for flexible packaging for pet food. Either way, give us a call and we can help you find sustainable pet food packaging for your next project. 

Pet Food Packaging: Creating Enticing Packaging for a Booming Market

Man’s best friend is no longer just that. More and more, pets are being viewed as a part of the family, causing the pet food industry to see exponential growth, especially with smaller brands focused on quality ingredients. In fact, according to the American Pet Products Association (APPA), 67% of U.S. households own a pet, but it’s the millennials that are taking pet ownership to a whole new level, and turning the pet food industry upside down. 

Pets Have Become Part of the Family 

According to another survey from the APPA, 90% of the 1,200 pet owners surveyed said that their pets are family. And their spending habits show it, with the current uptick of doggy bakeries, subscription boxes for pets, pet spas, and pet insurance. In 2018, pet care was a $225 billion business in North America, according to data from market research firm Edge by Ascential. By 2023, the firm expects that figure to rise to $281 billion. And the biggest area pet owners are spending: pet food. 

Pet Food Spending 

Specifically, millennials are willing to spend more money on pet food than previous generations. And because pets are now viewed as a part of the family, millennials are choosing to buy more natural and organic lines of pet food that boast all-natural, grain-free, and specialty blend foods. 

Today’s popular food brands include the small, local, artisan and fresh food options that deliver the healthier qualities today’s pet owner is looking for. There are even more natural and organic options for dog treats, bones, and snacks to meet this growing pet food trend. 

What does this mean for legacy brands like Pedigree and Kibbles ‘n Bits? They are facing slowing sales, while smaller, gourmet brands’ sales are booming.

Photo from our friends at Riley’s Organics

Developing Pet Food Packaging That Attracts Customers 

It’s no surprise that many brands are focusing on providing pet food options that are natural and gourmet to attract pet owners looking for wholesome ingredients, fair sourcing, and a quality product. 

As pet food brand owners look at their packaging, it’s important to ensure what consumers see first (ie, your packaging), matches the quality of the product inside. 

When brands look to create a pet food package, consider some of these best practices to stay up on the latest pet food packaging trends, and ensure your package stands out on the busy shelf: 

Clear Messaging

Be sure to include clear messaging around the ingredients, sourcing, and the benefits for your pet. Highlight any key attributes like organic, natural, grain-free, or free-range. 

Photo from our friends at Tribal Pet Foods

Use Great Branding

Whether it’s playful, minimalist, or whimsical, consider how impactful a great design can be. Use great artwork, sharp images and vibrant colors.

Eco-Friendly Packaging

Consider how using an eco-friendly package like a digitally printed pouch or recyclable bag can set your brand apart. Also, consider using recyclable or compostable films and post-consumer recycled content in your package.

Choose the Right Package

Another important factor is consumer preference. Consumers love the convenience and lightweight, durable quality of pouches. Plus, since they stand up and offer easy open and reclose properties, pouches are the preferred format for pet food.

Digitally-Enhanced Packaging 

Consider including a QR code linking to information on where you source your ingredients. You can also use a QR code to offer fun games, recipe ideas, and brand history information for consumers.

Connect with Consumers on Social Media

Outside of the packaging, how can you connect with today’s pet owners in the digital space? Meet your consumers where they hang out: social media channels like Facebook and Instagram. Encourage consumers to post photos with their pets and your product, and tag your page. Be a part of their lives and consider sharing stories, information, fun ideas, and more to keep your consumer base engaged.

Pet food packaging today should offer the quality and aesthetics to match the quality and well-thought-out ingredients in today’s popular gourmet food options. A great package goes a long way in helping your product stand out on the crowded pet food shelf, and capture the attention of doting millennial pet owners everywhere. 

Partnering with a Pet Food Packaging Manufacturer

Whether you’re a small business just starting out, or a large CPG, you know that in the pet food segment, a premium product needs a premium package. Want to learn more about what ePac and our innovative digital printing technology can do for you? Call us today or request a quote to learn our flexible packaging solutions and how we can help you create the best pet food packaging for your brand.

Premium Pet Food Packaging: Capturing The Attention of Today’s Pet Owner

The pet food market is highly competitive, with small, local, and big-name brands all sharing the same shelf. Since your packaging is the first thing people see, it should not only be functional, but innovative, too. Because of this, all brands are looking for ways to make their product, and line-up unique, to stand out in the growing segment.

According to ResearchAndMarkets.com, the global pet food packaging market accounted for $8.31 billion in 2017 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 7.5% to reach $15.98 billion by 2026. That’s almost double in just 9 years.

With such a large and growing market, it’s important to create packaging that will resonate with today’s pet owner by figuring out how they think and what influences their purchase decision. It’s also important to stay up on the trends.

One key growing trend is the demand for premium and innovative pet food products for pet parents’ beloved furry friends. The aforementioned ResearchAndMarkets.com study states that “the continuing trend of pet humanization and willingness of American consumers to opt for premium pet food brands” is spurring growth in the segment.

It’s becoming clear that consumers think of their pets as members of the family, not merely animals. With this trend comes the ever-increasing habit of purchasing premium products for their furry friends, from all-natural food to artisan treats, and in formulas such as grain-free, gluten-free, and organic, as well as in special formulas for the breed, age, and activity level.

Pouches Lead the Pack in Pet Foods

Since pet owners view their animals as extensions of the family, it’s only natural that the food that they choose to feed their pets would be high-quality, healthy, and fit their pet’s dietary needs.

All pet food, but especially premium and natural varieties, need quality packaging to keep the product fresh. A good package works to keep products fresh, preserve the nutritional value, and keep contaminants out.

According to the study by ResearchAndMarkets.com, based on material, plastic is one of the most widely used materials in the pet food packaging market. It offers high barrier, temperature resistance, and the needed durability while being cost-efficient.

Plastic pouches also prolong the shelf life of foods by keeping oxygen and moisture out, and freshness in. Pouches made with high barrier films and equipped with reseal technology, keep the food at peak freshness. And, freshness is paramount to today’s pet foods, especially with the growth of natural, organic, and refrigerated pet foods and treats available.

Today’s films work hard to prevent aroma, moisture, and oxygen transfer, and retailers, brand owners, and consumers all seem to gravitate toward this packaging format. According to American Nutrition, the classic biscuit box is being replaced with small, plastic bags that pet parents are able to reseal for freshness.

Consumers are looking for premium products for their pets, and flexible packaging delivers that with high-impact graphics, lightweight property, and reseal technology.

Speaking of reseal, the technology not only keeps the food fresh, but it also resonates well with consumers looking for convenience features that make for easier feeding time. To further aid in convenience, many brand owners are adopting features commonly used in the snack industry to make the package more convenient for consumers: things like stand-up pouches, resealable zippers, and tear notches.

 

Digital Printing & The Pet Food Packaging Market

Packaging goes a long way to not only increase shelf life but make the package visually appealing on the crowded pet food shelf. Differentiation is key to capture attention, while freshness is key to keeping your brand successful.

Whether you’re a small business just starting out, or a large CPG, you know that in the pet food segment, it’s all about fresh, healthy food, and treats for dogs and cats in packaging that makes feeding time easy, engaging, and fresh. The more premium the product, the more premium the package should be to evoke the high-quality appeal that pet owners are looking for when feeding their beloved pets.

Want to know the secret to premium pet food packaging? It starts with digital printing on flexible packaging for high-quality, clear, and colorful graphics. The quality of digitally printed graphics registers perfectly for every image printed, be it with small, medium or large runs. And, digital printing is more affordable than you think. It isn’t just for large companies with deep pockets, or for small companies with short runs. Digital printing is for anyone that wants an easier and better way to create flexible packaging.

At ePac Flexible Packaging, we offer a broad variety of pouch types (and rollstock) for your pet food packaging, including multi-format stand-up and lay flat pouches with press-to-close zippers and hang holes.

Call us today to get a free quote on how we can help you create the perfect pet food package.

Team Treatz Leverages ePac’s Nimble Pouchmaking

Sometimes a great idea for a new packaged product is just the beginning of the challenge. That’s certainly true of the origin of  Team Treatz, Inc.—a California-based, womanowned business that was started in January 2016.

Entrepreneurs Kim Kolodzi and Ginny Bischel, DVM, together envisioned the creation of a dog snack that would appeal to dog lovers and sports fans, while benefiting dogs teeth and gums. The treats are USAmade with what are described as wholesome, quality ingredients. 

Since Kolodzi has experience in licensed products, and Bischel is a veterinarian, a sports-related pet product seemed like a natural choice. The idea of football– and baseballshaped logo dog treats was born. 

Team Treatz currently designs and manufactures 7 oz. bags of NFL, MLB, NCAA and NBA licensed dental dog treats. The treats themselves are uniquely shaped, 2-in. domed and textured footballs, and basketballs, with detailed embossed team logos in the center of each treat. The treats are featured in individual team stores, online at Bed Bath & Beyond and Petco, and on the East Coast at select grocery retailers.

All-American challenge

While the basic idea for the product came together relatively quickly, the founders discovered that the devil is in the details. They had made the commitment to use only American ingredients, labor, manufacturing, and packaging for their treats. That turned out not to be as easy as they first imagined.

A peggable standup pouch was the pair’s packaging preference from the beginning. “Most dog treats are in pouches, and we didn’t want our product to look gimmicky,” said Kolodzi. But where to source those pouches?

As Kolodzi later recalled, it didn’t make sense to pay strict attention to using only American ingredients and manufacturing “and then buy pouches from China.”

“We were also concerned about not knowing the exact structure of the pouch and printing, and the chance of having something transfer from the packaging material that could compromise the treats,” she said. “We didn’t want to take any chances.”

The multilayer custom flexible packaging for Team Treatz are supplied by ePac , and manufactured at the converter’s Middleton, WI plant. A clear window on the front of the pouch allows consumers to see the treats inside. Easy opening and a press-to-reclose feature adds convenience for the consumer. The pouch graphics feature individual team logos as well as the logos of the leagues.

ePac’s short-run expertise, quick changes, and multiple facilities also came in handy for the new entrepreneurs. “First, we were dealing with multiple sports, multiple teams, etc. so short runs with quick changeover was essential,” said Kolodzi. “Then, we had situations where, for instance, a particular state had its own regulations for packaging dog treats, related to wording, calorie counts, etc. Without ePac’s ability to quickly make the changes to the pouches, we would have lost out on a lot of business.”

As the company prepares to add other sports leagues and teams, and also expand sales into Canada in 2018, Kolodzi reflected on their efforts to deliver on the promise of Team Treatz.

Ginny has been a veterinarian for 30 years, and I have been in the sports licensed product industry for 16 years, and a navy wife for 10 years,” said Kolodzi. “We are committed to providing a palatable product, 100% made in the USA with USA ingredients. We want to stand out as a strong, unique and caring brand. We have only just begun.

 

Contact Information –

Team Treatz, Inc.                                                             

2832 Via Del Allazon                 

Bonita, CA 91902                       

(619) 470-1188                          

Teamtreatz.com    

Licensed and Distributed Through

Pets First Company                                      

248 3rd Street

Elizabeth, NJ 0720

(908) 289-2900

Petsfirstcompany.com