An Interview with Dr. Karen Becker, How Fresh Diets Are Reshaping the Pet Food Industry

An Interview with Dr. Karen Becker, How Fresh Diets Are Reshaping the Pet Food Industry

Our final guest today is Alan Hansbury, co-owner and co-founder of Meals for Fido, a company that produces veterinarian-balanced, USDA inspected and approved, human-grade ingredient dog food. Alan spent most of his career as an executive chef working in some of the country’s finest resorts and kitchens, where one of his many responsibilities was to create balanced, healthy, delicious meals for guests.

“Now, I’m fortunate enough to be doing it for dogs,” he says. “Years ago, as a chef, I noticed a social movement in which people were becoming interested in food traceability: where it’s being farmed, how it got to their table and how healthy it was for them. Food is such an important part of our lives. For many reasons, I think we overlooked what was actually going in our dogs’ food.

As an executive chef and a pet parent, I always trusted commercial dog food. Why wouldn’t I? But the brand recommended by our veterinarian to help clear up our dog’s skin issues didn’t help. That’s when I started to do my own research and discovered the truth about what actually goes into dog food, how it’s made, the excessive recalls, chemicals and everything that was involved with it.”

In Alan’s experience, as more pet parents educate themselves about what’s actually going into their dog’s food, they’re making better choices. The ability to see the ingredients in the food and know they’re coming from a trusted source has become a game changer for many pet owners.

Pet Parents Are Turning to Fresh Diets to Build Healthier, Happier Dogs

I asked Alan why he thinks his segment of the pet food market — human-grade, nutritionally balanced, species-appropriate fresh food — is becoming so popular. Is it because pet parents no longer trust big pet food companies or because they want to know where the food is sourced from, or perhaps because they want to see real food in the pet food bowl instead of pellets?

It’s definitely a combination of all of those reasons,” he replied. “We have many customers who just want a healthier, happier dog. For example, feeding fresh food was a game changer for our two dogs. One specifically, her skin issues cleared up within two months of feeding a fresh, balanced diet.

Another reason is the massive pet food recalls that have been in the news in recent years and the lawsuits that are still making their way through the courts. People are simply becoming more aware. And the information is out there for pet owners who want to do their own research and understand what they’re feeding their dog vs. what they could be feeding.

One of the challenges for Meals for Fido and other small fresh pet food producers is they spend most of their financial resources ensuring their ingredients and finished products are of the highest quality, nutritionally optimal, and free of pathogens. They don’t have much left over for marketing and advertising, so they depend on word-of-mouth to grow their businesses.