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Wild One’s Debut of Healthier Dog Treats Reflects How Pet Startups Are Learning From Human Food Brands

“Sustainable” “Single ingredient.” “Ethically sourced.” These are all terms now often deployed to advertise grocery store products as more and more consumers become concerned with how their food is actually produced and processed.

But typically, these are terms used to advertise food for humans. Increasingly, pet food companies are following suit in their production and marketing techniques—particularly startups and small businesses, also reflecting a trend in the greater food industry, which has been nudged to evolve in the wake of viral successes seen by the likes of green juice purveyors like Pressed Juicery or salad chains such as Sweetgreen.

Wild One, a pet accessories brand whose aesthetic could be described as Everlane for dogs, announced this week that it is launching its first edible products for pups. Specifically, the company described them as “single-ingredient, ethically-sourced dog treats.”

According to Wild One co-founder Minali Chatani, the startup, founded just last year in 2018, decided to expand to selling treats after conversations with customers at its pop-up shop in New York City’s NoLita neighborhood.

“We looked at what was available on the market and found that many treats didn’t communicate sourcing info, the ingredients
were confusing, and the recipes included fillers or stabilizers,” Chatani tells Fortune. “We created treats that are not only good enough for humans to eat, but we feel proud feeding to our dogs.”

Wild One is kicking off the new product line with three flavors:

  • Asian Carp Fish Puffs, said to be made solely from Asian carp fish and sourced from Fin Gourmet in Western Kentucky. Carp fish is high in protein and omega 3s, low in fat, and no associated mercury consumption concerns because they only eat plankton themselves (not other fish).
  • Chicken Tenders. Produced in partnership with Springer Mountain Farms in Northeast Georgia, touted to be the first poultry farm worldwide to be certified by the American Humane Association. The cage-free chickens are raised on non-GMO feed (free of hormones, steroids, growth stimulants, antibiotics, animal by-products, and pesticides).
  • Sweet Potato Treats, sourced from Nature’s Way Farms in North Carolina. The family-owned farm produces sweet potatoes free of chemicals, preservatives, and pesticides. Upon harvesting, the sweet potatoes are hand-sliced and then dehydrated into treats with high levels of dietary fiber and antioxidants.

“We noticed current market offerings tend to lack ingredient sourcing opacity and contain a cocktail of preservatives, chemicals, and pesticides,” Chatani explains about the R&D phase. “While developing our own treats, we sought out ingredients that were nutritious for dogs and had a minimal environmental impact.”

The company says the treats have been “tested by a community of tough dog critics.” After all, any dog owner (or dog lover) knows that while some dogs will eat anything—others are highly picky eaters.

Pricing ranges from $18 for a 4-ounce bag of dried Sweet Potato, $20 for the Asian Carp Fish Puffs, and $22 for the dried Chicken Tenders. There’s also a subscription option: Customers can choose to receive a bag of selected treats every two, four, or eight weeks, and receive a 10% discount on each repeat order. Chatani says Wild One was able to keep the prices in this range based on working directly with carefully-selected suppliers, thus cutting out costly middlemen.

For now, treats are only be available to order online through the company’s website, but Wild One’s reps say the company is in the midst of meeting with wholesale partners.

Wild One’s founders note that the company is launching only treats at the moment, with no plans to move into dog food (i.e. kibble or freshly-prepared meals) anytime soon.

“Right now, we’re focused on perfecting our products for dogs,” Chatani says. “That said, we’re also cat lovers.”