Postins is also the co-founder and CEO of pet food company The Honest Kitchen, which differentiates itself in the pet nutrition sector for manufacturing in only human-grade facilities and using human-grade whole food ingredients.
“We’ve begun using things like coconut milk and turmeric; some Ayurvedic spices in new products like cardamom and things like that which provide other benefits beyond macronutrition,” she told NutraIngredients-USA.
These ingredients are featured in the company’s ‘Functional Liquid Treat’ called Bone Broth with Turmeric, marketed for its collagen and chondroitin from the broth for joint support, as well as curcuminoids for their anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which sells for around $13.99 per 5oz canister.
Who buys pet supplements? The demographics
Popular benefits and claims that consumers seek out when shopping for pet nutrition include mobility benefits (such as joint health), liver health, and skin and coat care, Postins said. But who are the consumers who purchase pet supplements?
“At one end of the scale, the type of consumer that The Honest Kitchen attracts on a whole are extremely knowledgeable, they question their vet’s advice and they research and reach out for holistic and integrative health—they are choosing more sophisticated supplements,” she said, adding that these consumers and products are more accessible along the coasts and in urban areas.
On the other end of the spectrum, what Postins calls entry-level pet-owners, are consumers who trust food choices for pet nutrition. “An example of that is glucosamine or chondroitin formulated as part of a dry dog food," Postins said.
‘Supplements more necessary if pets are eating heavily processed foods’
“But unfortunately, for many types of those foods there are laws that govern how much of a supplement can go into a food,” she added. “Which means oftentimes the amount doesn’t equate into a therapeutic dose and tends to be more of a marketing gimmick.”
Postins and her company vouch for whole food nutrition. It helps that animals are less discriminating with texture, appearance, and aroma of what they eat—pets are more likely to get enough omega-3 by chewing on fish cookies or fish skin treats than humans, especially those who live away from coasts and don’t include seafood in their diet.
“Our philosophy is that every animal is an individual—I think in most cases animals do not need additional supplementation if they’re eating a healthy whole food diet,” Postins said. “But it’s more necessary if [pets] are eating more heavily processed foods.”
Human trends spill into pet food
The main reason Postins chose to manufacture the products in human-grade facilities is transparency. “There are a number of things allowed in the pet food production side, things that are permissible to use in conventional pet food that are not permitted in human food products,” she said.
These details range from how ingredients are processed to how the facilities utilities (HVAC or ventilation) are maintained.
But standards and quality aside, Postins said that more cues from human wellness and nutrition is being translated into the pet care industry. “In the majority of cases, what people are learning on the human food side they’re translating directly to pets,” she said.
There are only a few ingredients that are popular as human supplements that are not permitted to be used for pets, such as rosehip. But up-and-coming nutritional health ingredients, such as probiotics, are now being formulated into pet health products (The Honest Kitchen has a dry Goat Milk Plus Probiotics supplement geared for pet digestion).
“Clean label is becoming more-and-more in demand as time goes on, I think people just continue to educate themselves on the human food side, and [clean labels] really are a primary importance in pet food,” she added.