Mars Petcare has become the biggest supplier to enter the fast-growing natural petfood segment with Crave, a super-premium ‘ancestral’ brand for dogs and cats.
Inspired by the diets of wolves and wildcats, Crave’s grain-free meals and treats are designed to provide “complete and balanced” nutrition for adult dogs and cats of all types. They have a meat content of 60% to 65% - which was “very high for the grocery channel” according to Mars.
The brand’s wet and dry lines will roll into grocery this month, around 18 months after making their debut in the US – where sales had been “pretty successful” Mars Petcare general manager Deri Watkins told The Grocer. “It’s given us the confidence to go for a full-scale launch in the UK.”
More than 10% of the UK petfood market was natural, he said. “It’s accelerating, and the ancestral segment is roughly a third of the growth. So, it’s definitely a hot trend.”
However, no brand “had taken it into mainstream” until now, Watkins added. “This is quite a big bet for us.”
The UK’s range of products is “similar in architecture” to those in the US portfolio. The first, nine-strong tranche comprises wet and dry dogfood and dry catfood, with wet SKUs for cats scheduled for the summer.
Crave’s launch will be backed by a “heavyweight” marketing push, including an online mechanism that refunds shoppers the full price of their first purchase.
It comes after Mars Petcare’s sales director, Helen Warren-Piper, told The Grocer in October: “If you’re not in the natural space, you won’t be going where the category is going to go.”