Retail

Making Online Pet Food More Pup- And Planet-Friendly With Crickets

Making Pet Food More Pup- And Planet-Friendly

Dogs need tender loving care, regular walks, entertaining toys and food to keep them energized and well-nourished. Traditional pet snacks made with beef or poultry may not always be healthy for pups or the environment, but food innovators are aiming to provide alternatives. Take Chippin, which sells a line of snacks with cricket protein. Co-founder Haley Russell had worked in food and beverage before starting her MBA at Wharton, and as she told PYMNTS in an interview, she was always extremely interested in the “power of food to change the world.”

Russell was also thinking about the ability to improve health and well-being – for both people and pets – through nutrition. And she was also considering the effect that daily food choices have on the environment. The pet food industry alone is responsible for yearly greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to that of 13.6 million cars.

Russell, along with her Co-founder Laura Colagrande, who was studying for a master’s of architecture at UPenn, discovered that by harnessing sustainable, complete proteins such as overpopulated fish or insects, they could create food that dogs love while providing the “whole nutrition that they need.”

Today, Russell said Chippin has a “suite of snacks for dogs” in four different varieties. They offer superfood bites, smokehouse BBQ, antioxidant boost and spirulina dailies on its website as well as on Amazon and in some brick-and-mortar stores.

When it comes to sustainability, according to the company, “each five-ounce bag of Chippin snacks saves 40 gallons of water on average over any other dog treats.” And from a nutritional standpoint, crickets have the ten essential amino acids that a dog needs per the company. Beyond crickets, the brand’s snacks include other foods such as kale and blueberries. In Russell’s words, the company creates “smart combinations of all-natural ingredients.”

For its target market, Russell said Chippin aims to share the product with consumers looking to make a sustainable choice. But she also pointed out that there is an opportunity to serve pet owners who want natural nutrition for their dogs.

The Market

Russell said Chippin is creating products that “pet parents who want all-natural options can feel comfortable choosing for their dogs.” At the same time, most pet foods on the shelf are rooted in traditional animal proteins such as chicken, beef and vegan varieties, and many dogs are prone to be allergic to those options. Chippin, however, is intended for pet owners who are “interested in a product that doesn’t sacrifice nutrition and is still eco-friendly,” noted Russell.

The company has held promotional events at co-working spaces, animal shelters and gyms to get the word out about its products. And once consumers discover the brand, Chippin offers a website that provides an introduction to the brand and the environmental effects of protein choices. It also points out that its protein is sourced from a family-owned farm in Canada.

Consumers can order Chippin’s products through its website and pay by credit card or PayPal. The company sends deliveries via ground shipping to 48 states (not Alaska or Hawaii at this time). Chippin also has two warehouses, so it can expeditiously bring products to consumers and save on the number of miles that its snacks travel to get to consumers’ doors. Beyond eCommerce, the company also offers its snacks in a selection of brick-and-mortar stores.

Chippin’s packaging is recyclable: Returning consumers can store the snack bags they use over time and send them back to TerraCycle for recycling. With its focus on sustainability and health, Russell said the company sees itself as the “pioneer and leader” in providing foods that are better for pets and the planet as it aims to build out its next generation of products.

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