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Petco opens its first-ever ‘pet food kitchen’ — with more to come

Petco is tapping into a fast-growing segment of the $32.7 billion pet food and treats market: human-grade food.

The retailer has opened an upscale “pet food kitchen” at its recently remodeled flagship in Manhattan’s Union Square neighborhood where shoppers can purchase fresh, human-grade meals for their pets. Petco is launching the initiative with pet food company JustFoodForDogs, which has opened freestanding pet kitchens in California and Seattle, with additional sites under construction in Boston and Chicago.

At the 1,350-sq.-ft. in-store kitchen at Petco, JustFoodForDogs’ trained chefs hand-prepare the brand’s signature recipes on a daily basis. Similar to the pet food company’s existing kitchens, it will produce 2,000 pounds of food daily, seven days a week. Petco plans to open more of the in-store kitchens during the next several years as part of its partnership with JustFoodForDogs, whose products are already sold at more than 1,000 Petco stores and online.

The opening of the kitchen follows Petco’s recent announcement that, as of May 1, it is the first and only major retailer of pet food and treats to take a stand against artificial ingredients by clearing its shelves of food and treats containing artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives for dogs and cats.

"The ability to provide fresh, made-before-your-eyes pet food with real, unprocessed human-grade ingredients is game-changing, both for Petco and for the pets and pet parents we serve," said Petco co-chief merchandising officer Nick Konat. "This launch truly brings to life our bold nutrition standards, and serves as another proof point in our steadfast commitment to only offering foods we believe support the overall health and wellness of pets.”

The human-grade segment of the pet food and treats market grew 70% from 2015 to 2018 to reach $546 million, according to Nielsen. JustFoodForDogs, which launched in 2010, helped pioneer the segment. Its offerings are created by a team of in-house veterinarians who formulate meals with fresh, whole-food ingredients that are USDA-certified for human consumption, in recipes nutritionally balanced for dogs as well as cats, according to the company. In addition to prepared meals, the company also offers its recipes and nutrient blends available for those who want to make healthy, whole-food meals for their pets from scratch at home.

“We're thrilled to introduce New York's first fresh pet food kitchen and mark the beginning of our national expansion with our first kitchen location on the East Coast," said Shawn Buckley, founder of JustFoodForDogs. "Our partnership with Petco has allowed us to increase our national footprint, and with this new location, we're making it easier to access our freshly-prepared meals, custom diet plans, health supplements and more."
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