Dog Food on Your Doorstep
Amanda Carrozza is a freelance writer and editor in New Jersey.
Online meal kit delivery services have expanded into the pet food market. Are these companies a fad, or do they offer a solution pet parents have been searching for?
Since its introduction in 2012, the online meal kit delivery craze has grown year over year. One of the key players, Blue Apron, was among the fastest-growing e-commerce retailers in 2016, and by 2020 revenue for the niche online industry is expected to surpass $10 billion. It was only a matter of time before the pet industry followed suit. And that time is now.
It makes perfect sense, actually. A pet’s place in the home has evolved exponentially over the past decade. Fido doesn’t just take up space at the end of the bed anymore. He has a wardrobe, a social calendar and his own supply of tech products. Pet owners have also taken a vested interest in what their companion animals eat at each meal. According to a Mintel report on the US pet market, 79 percent of pet owners said the quality of their pets’ food is as important as their own.
Without being able to determine confidently which mainstream food brands are best, many pet owners have taken to the kitchen to prepare meals themselves. But even that has proven inadequate. A University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine study of 200 home-prepared pet food recipes found that less than 5 percent provided the essential nutrients in amounts that met canine health standards.
So, what’s the solution? How can pet parents control the ingredients their animals eat and ensure they are still receiving the required nutrients? The answer won’t be found on the shelves of many pet food stores. Instead, the answer may lie at their doorstep.
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Just as with Blue Apron, HelloFresh or the Martha Stewart—endorsed Marley Spoon, pet parents can utilize pet meal delivery services to customize and create meals that are promoted to be fresh, delicious and nutritious. Unlike the human equivalents that require chopping, boiling and baking, the pet food options are predominantly delivered premade. Currently, the companies in this space cater to dogs, although a few have cat food services in the works.
The Farmer’s Dog promotes veterinarian-developed meals that are cooked just days prior to delivery. In addition to prepared products, the company has recipes for pet owners who favor the do-it-yourself approach — although DIY program customers will still need to purchase The Farmer’s Dog nutrient pack for meal preparation.
Of the companies listed here, NowNomNow offers pet parents the most recipe options (five), including a meat-free version. Each week, a box of single-serve pouches arrives at your door. The company’s website also hosts a comprehensive list of videos and articles on recipe information, transitioning a pet to an all-fresh diet and the different nutritional requirements for puppies and adult dogs.
Before receiving your first shipment, Ollie requires pet owners to complete a pet profile that includes questions about breed, gender, activity level and spay/neuter status. From the responses, a recommended formula is provided — including how many calories your dog likely needs each day — as well as shipment options depending on how often the pet will eat Ollie-delivered meals. The meals are already prepared when they arrive and come with a custom scoop based on the dog’s size.
Of the meal delivery services for pets, PetPlate has probably received the most media coverage. The company’s owner, Renaldo Webb, and his dog Winston even appeared on an episode of Shark Tank. All PetPlate meals are comprised of USDA-certified meat, fruits and vegetables, and there are two recipes offered (beef based or turkey based). Depending on preference, 28 meals are shipped bi-weekly or monthly.