Ben & Jerry’s is the latest food company to pivot to pets, sensing opportunity as more Americans acquire furry friends. The number of U.S. households with pets rose 6.5% to 84.9 million between 2015 and 2020, according to the American Pet Products Association, a trade group. General Mills, which makes Cheerios and Haagen-Dazs ice cream, bought the Blue Buffalo pet food brand in 2018. Jelly maker J.M. Smucker Co. bought Big Heart Pet Brands — which makes Meow Mix and Milk Bone — in 2015. Three years later, Smucker acquired Ainsworth Pet Nutrition, which makes Nutrish brand pet food. And in April, Nestle bought British natural pet food brand Lily’s Kitchen. Nestle has owned the Purina brand since 2001.
Get Educated. The first step to being an outstanding pet owner, according to Dr. Becker, is taking responsibility. “Nobody ever says ‘I was a lousy pet owner.’ It’s always the pet’s fault.” Learn the peculiarities of your pet’s breed such as how much exercise they need, how gregarious they are, how much maintenance their coat requires, how often they need to go outside, and about new technologies, products, and nutrition that might help you care for your pet. Knowing the basics about your pet’s upkeep ensures you won’t be caught off guard by troubling behavior.
Spending on dog treats has ballooned, jumping 44% to $5.5 billion between 2015 and 2020, according to Euromonitor, a data firm. Millennials in particular spend lavishly on their pets and look for pet products with human-grade ingredients, Ben & Jerry’s said.Lindsay Bumps, a global marketing specialist with Ben & Jerry’s, said the company had been eyeing the exponential growth in pet spending and started developing its dog treats early last year. The company consulted with a veterinary nutritionist, regulatory consultants and others to make sure the treats are safe and easy to digest, said Bumps, who is also a certified veterinary technician.
As with any treat, owners should go slow with the introduction, offering a spoonful at a time, Bumps said. She suggested putting the dessert in a bowl so dogs have an easier time navigating it. Bumps’ 9-year-old French bulldog, Spock, is a big fan of the peanut butter flavor.
The treats — $2.99 per cup or $4.99 for four — will be placed near the popsicles in grocery store frozen food aisles, a few doors down from Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.The pivot to pets doesn’t mean Ben & Jerry’s is seeing any slowdown on the human side. London-based Unilever which owns Ben & Jerry’s, said in October that its ice cream sales for home consumption grew more than 10% in the most recent quarter. Rattled consumers sought indulgent treats during the pandemic and stocked up on multiple pints during less frequent grocery trips, Bumps said.
Make Yourself the Funnest Thing in the World for a Reliable Recall. When training your dog to “come here” make sure you’re giving out a lot of praise & treats. The goal is to make coming back to you the best decision they could have made, if not your dog is likely going to decide that whatever he was chasing/sniffing is more interesting.
“This is an opportunity for people to treat their dogs as they’re treating themselves when they grab a pint off the shelf,” she said.