Food Guidelines

Disrupting the Dog Food Market

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Many are moving toward natural food for dogs, but Lucy Postins is actually Disrupting the Dog Food Market with the human-grade whole-food dog food company, The Honest Kitchen. She did not have any such intentions when she started her company about 10 years ago. She created products that people didn’t realize they needed until they saw them, and she had no idea of what disruptive ripple effects would spread through the industry from the demand for her products. Fast Company has a very detailed article on their website about what has happened since:

Disrupting the Dog Food Market

Believe it or not, at one point we actually fed our pets real food. That was, until people-food companies realized they could maximize their resources by mashing together all of their scrap meat, leftover grains, eggshells, and bones, injecting some vitamins, and cooking it up into “kibble.”

Lucy Postins, founder of the human-grade whole-food pet food company, The Honest Kitchen, set out to change all of that, nearly a decade ago. Her line of dehydrated pet food is vibrant with colors from real, whole foods–green spinach, orange carrots, yellow bananas, red cranberries–and packed with protein from healthy and ethically raised animals, such as chicken, turkey, beef and haddock. Additionally, she has a set of morals that drive everything she does: The Honest Kitchen won’t sell to any pet store that sells puppies, in an effort to fight against puppy mills, and she’s said no thanks to some of the big-box retailers as well in an effort to support independents.

What she didn’t realize those early days as she sat cooking up homemade dog food in her Southern California kitchen, was that she was about to shake the pet food industry to its core, creating a disruptive ripple-effect. I recently sat down with her to learn more about how she puts principles over profits. Here’s what she had to say.

In your mind, what is disruptive innovation, and are you using it to transform the pet food industry?

I think of disruptive innovation as creating something that consumers didn’t realize they needed; it’s developing a product that changes the status quo and refreshes the set of options consumers have, with something new that makes the old options (which they previously thought were fine) suddenly seem dull or flawed….

What has been the hardest part of going up against major brands with multi-million-dollar budgets in pursuit of what you believe is right?

It sounds strange to say, but when I look back I don’t feel we have really struggled hugely. From the outset, we didn’t have a major plan for aggressive growth; The Honest Kitchen has grown in an organic way and charted its own course on many levels so we’ve evolved without the pressure to be a certain size at a certain time. That means we have been able to stay true to our roots and allowed our values to thrive. In turn, that’s further fueled our growth because it’s deepened our connections with our customers who then feel inspired enough to tell others.

With that all said, we have of course had our challenges over the years and probably the most prominent for me have been the regulatory challenges from FDA and various state departments of agriculture, challenging our claims that our pet foods are human grade….

What makes your company different from every other pet food company trying to make a difference?

Our human-grade status is a major differentiator. Our products are made in a human food facility on the exact same equipment used to produce various foods people eat. That really strikes a chord with consumers and sets us apart from lower quality, feed-grade manufacturers….

Read the complete article here, because there is a lot more to this story.

One thing I really like about Postins and her company is the fact that they believe in their mission and don’t let anything, even the government bureaucrats, stop them. Seems the governments’ biggest hangup has been the company referring to their food as “human-grade”. That’s understandable to a degree, because a lot of low-income people continue to eat pet food out of desperation nowadays especially.

Personally, I think this unplanned effect of Disrupting the Dog Food Market has been long overdue.

How about you? Please share below.

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