LOS ANGELES — On September 15, the Pet Independent Innovation Awards, a platform that recognizes the most innovative pet care companies, services and products, announced the results of its fourth annual awards. The Pet Innovation Awards strives to honor innovation and the best in various pet food, supplies and service categories.
The 2022 awards received more than 2,000 nominations worldwide.
“It’s hard to put into words how important and irreplaceable pets are when it comes to our families and lives,” said Travis Grant, managing director, Independent Innovation Awards. “Pet parents are willing to pay for quality products that help improve the health and wellbeing of their beloved pets. We’ve received nominations from incredible companies and technologies that are truly raising the bar when it comes to pet centric products.”
In pet food, notable winners include:
- JAC Pet Nutrition for Cat Food Functional Diet Product of the Year
- Kit Cat International for Cat Food Wet Product of the Year
- Purpose Pet Food for Cat Food Freeze-Dried Product of the Year
- Paw CBD for Cat Treat Product of the Year and Dog Calming Product of the Year
- Solid Gold Pet For Dog Food Product of the Year
- Tucker’s for Dog Food Freeze-Dried Product of the Year
- Barkworthies for Dog Treat Product of the Year
- Paw Power for Lickable Treat of the Year
- Pets Best Life Health for Functional Dog Treat Product of the Year
- Ultimate Pet Nutrition for Dog Vitamin/Supplement Product of the Year
Cat Food Functional Diet Product of the Year
JAC Pet Nutrition won Cat Food Functional Diet Product of the Year for its Air Dried Superfood Crumbles cat food topper. The multi-functional topper is formulated with superfoods and TruMune Postbiotics, a blend of pro- and prebiotics by Cargill’s brand Diamond V, to help support digestive, joint, microbiome, skin and coat health in cats.
“Most treat companies don’t test for, or list, anything other than protein, crude fat, fiber and things like that,” Grant said. “The right amount of protein, fat, fiber, moisture, ash, vitamins, minerals and Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids can make a huge difference in the dietary intake of cats — as well as other pets. JAC Pet Nutrition uses a holistic approach to pet health by actually using food science to create their recipes. Their commitment to the highest quality pet treats and food toppers using all natural, premium ingredients makes them our choice for Cat Food Functional Diet Product of the Year.”
JAC Pet Nutrition’s topper contains more than 390 mg of Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids per serving, offering an extra boost of health benefits. According to the company, Omega 3s have a variety of anti-inflammatory properties and can help reduce blood pressure and control blood sugar, and Omega 6s provide nutrients to help reduce itchy skin and support a shiny coat.
“We’re thrilled by this recognition from Pet Innovation,” said Charlie Bachkora, founder of JAC Pet Nutrition. “I started my own pet company after working with and studying pet nutrition for years. We remain committed to providing innovative, healthy and functional pet products.
“What sets us apart is that we send our products to a lab to test for vitamins, minerals, and Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids that promote feline health,” Bachkora added. “Postbiotics has scientific data from Cargill that supports the claim. We put the results on the back of every bag. With all the unvalidated claims you see on packages today, we are committed to this mandate: if we claim it, we guarantee it.”
JAC Pet Nutrition launched the functional cat food topper in August.
Cat Food Wet Product of the Year
Kit Cat international won Cat Food Wet Product of the Year for its Kit Cat Complete Cuisine™. Developed by nutritionists, the cat food product is a complete-and-balanced diet in a meat flake-only format and made with fresh, natural ingredients. The recipe does not contain grains, artificial flavors or preservatives.
Kit Cat Complete Cuisine is the first format of its kind that meets European Pet Food Industry Federation (FEDIAF) standards, according to Kit Cat International.
“We are truly honored to be recognized by Pet Innovation and be among the winners’ circle,” said Kenneth Koh, co-founder of Kit Cat International. “Our passion for animal welfare, shelters and stray cats has been the main catalyst to starting our company. We are advocates for cats and pets on every level.
“Providing a wholesome and natural cat product made up of the freshest raw materials has been our goal from the start,” Koh added. “We strive to create simple, yet high quality and nutritious meals that even the most discerning cat will enjoy. After all, cats are an integral part of our families, and they deserve the best that we can offer them to ensure they have a long and ‘pawspurrous’ life.”
Kit Cat Complete Cuisine is available in 14 recipes, including Chicken and Goji Berry in Broth, Chicken and Skipjack in Broth, Chicken and Salmon in Broth, Tuna and Chia Seed in Broth, and others. According to Pet Independent Innovation Awards, Kit Cat Cuisine was chosen for its commitment to ingredient transparency and high quality.
“It's important to be transparent about the sources of products when it comes to pet food,” Grant said.
“Particularly wet food. Ensuring high quality that is both wholesome and natural in the ingredients that go into cat products makes a difference in the health and well-being of our feline friends. You can tell Kit Cat’s line of high-quality and nutritious cat food was created by cat lovers. It’s simple to serve but packed with the essential ingredients that cats need and meets the highest level of industry standards while ensuring the health of even our fussiest eating cat companions.”
Cat Food Freeze-Dried Product of the Year
Purpose Pet Food, a New Jersey-based manufacturer of premium freeze-dried raw pet food and treats, has won Cat Food Freeze Dried Product of the Year. The company’s cat food, along with all its freeze-dried formulas, are formulated using farm-raised, pasture-fed, free-range and humanely reared protein sources, without any added hormones or antibiotics, as well as organic produce.
Manufactured in a USDA-certified facility, the company’s cat foods consist of 99% meat fortified with natural vitamins and minerals. The company’s cat food line includes chicken, duck, turkey and rabbit recipes.
“Thank you to the 2022 Pet Independent Innovation Awards for recognizing our commitment to excellence and changing the pet food industry for good,” said Josephine Zee, owner of Purpose Pet Food. “Purpose started with the belief that wellness is not a one-way street, and that pet parents want to feed their pets better food that reflects their own ethical values so that, together, we can make a difference. In addition to our core values as animal lovers who want to feed our pets the best, natural ingredients, we also believe in making a difference by supporting independent, ethically run, American farms.”
According to the Pet Independent Innovation awards, Purpose Pet Food’s products were chosen for its high commitment to food quality.
“Freeze-drying is the gold standard when it comes to food preparation since once the moisture is removed, the nutrients remain,” Grant said. “Freeze drying results in some of the highest quality pet food. However, there are so many freeze-dried raw pet food diets on the market today, it’s hard to know where true quality resides.
“Purpose Pet Foods really is a company with a purpose with a company ethos that is setting the new standard within the pet food industry,” Grant added. “Their conscious sourcing model and quality ingredients set themselves apart. Their product is also irresistible to our furry loved ones. We are proud to award Purpose Pet Food with this year’s Cat Food Freeze Dried Product of the Year Award. It is also in the top three finalists in dog food.”
Cat Treat Product of the Year
Paw CBD, a brand of cbdMD Inc., won Cat Treat Product of the Year for its soft CBD cat treats. Formulated with broad-spectrum CBD, the soft hemp chews are THC-free and can help cats manage daily stress by supporting calmness and comfort.
“At every age, our kitty companions need wellness support,” Grant explained. “From helping them stay happy and active when they’re young to keeping them calm and comfortable as they age, their health and wellbeing are a top priority. The CBD chews from Paw CBD provide even the finickiest of felines the love and support they deserve in one easy-to-use, flavorful bite.”
The soft treats are flavored using real chicken and catnip ingredients and are certified by the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC). Paw CBD’s cat treats are available in two strengths based on a cat’s weight: 150 mg and 300 mg.
“Paw CBD was founded by pet lovers for pet lovers to help our best friends live their best lives,” said Matt Coapman, chief marketing officer of cbdMD. “We are proud to offer superior Broad Spectrum CBD oil products for pets. From everyday wellness to those extra stressful times like riding in a carrier, trips to the vet, or nail trims and grooming, these CBD cat chews are the ‘purr-fect’ option.”
Dog Calming Product of the Year
Paw CBD was also selected by the Pet Innovation Awards as the winner of Dog Calming Product of the Year for its Paw CBD Calming Oil for canines.
“Being in the winners circle for the Pet Innovation Awards twice this year is thrilling and a vindication of our dedication to our furry companions,” Coapman said.
Formulated with broad spectrum hemp, chamomile, passionflower and melatonin, the oil can serve as a sleep aid for dogs experiencing stressful situations.
“Of all the reasons dog owners seek out CBD products, one of the most common is for help with stress and anxiety issues,” Grant said. “In fact, 20% to 40% of dogs seen by veterinarians and behavioral specialists suffer from separation issues. Whether it’s separation, noise aversion, or other fear behaviors, desperate owners are eager to find ways to help their anxious pups. Paw CBD Calming Oil addresses this specific wellness issue, especially for dogs, with one product. With its innovative blend of ingredients and care, this amazing oil deserves recognition in the Dog Calming Product of the Year category.”
The Calming Oil is also NASC certified and is available in a blueberry flavor. The oil can be served as a stand-alone treat or drizzled onto and regular treat or meal.
“It’s an honor to receive this category award for a second time from Pet Innovation,” Coapman said. “Of course, many options are available to calm and soothe our canine friends. But not all of them are created equal. While there are CBD products for dogs and there are calming products for dogs, very few combine the powerful properties of both into one easy solution. Because our pets are all these things and more, Paw CBD was created to provide safe, versatile CBD oil products for the ongoing wellbeing and happiness of the cats and dogs we call family.”
Dog Food Product of the Year
Solid Gold was awarded Dog Food Product of the Year by the Pet Independent Innovation Awards for its NutrientBoost™ line of products.
The line features premium recipes and food toppers developed to improve nutrient absorption and provide a boost to a dog’s immune and gut health. Solid Gold’s NutrientBoost line is formulated with plasma, protein and a proprietary blend proven to help promote a healthy gut and immune system in dogs, according to the company.
“We are delighted to have our innovative NutrientBoost™ line recognized as one of the best products for dogs,” said Steve Ball, chief executive officer of North America at H&H Group, parent company of Solid Gold. “Over the last 40 years, Solid Gold has continued to disrupt the holistic pet food category with new innovations that support a pet’s wellness and we are eager to continue to introduce exciting and beneficial products for pets and pet parents in years to come.”
Dog Food Freeze-Dried Product of the Year
Tucker’s won Dog Food Freeze Dried Product of the Year for its freeze-dried dog food formulas, which can be served as complete-and-balanced meal, food topper or treat. Comprised of 95% meat, bone and marrow and 5% pumpkin, which can help support digestive health, Tucker’s freeze-dried dog food is suitable for dogs of all ages.
“In the ever-expanding world of the pet care industry, stores and consumers are being inundated with SKUs, making it difficult to find what you're looking for,” Grant said. “There are a number of freeze-dried options but they are usually a part of a multi-step diet for pets. This can be confusing for consumers and not ideal for pets when it comes time for feeding. Tucker's Freeze-Dried Raw Formulas solve that problem and conserve valuable retailer shelf space by being a three-in-one product. By offering a product that is meant to feed, top or even treat, Tucker's has created an innovative and nutritious product for pets that you can trust.”
As well as offering pet parents convenience, the freeze-dried formulas also support maximum nutrient absorption. By emulsifying its entire formulas, Tucker’s expands the surface area of its freeze-dried products, providing dogs with the ability to absorb more nutrients from the food in a short period of time. According to the company, it is the only raw pet food company to emulsify its entire product.
Tucker’s freeze-dried dog foods are available in 12-oz and 14-oz bags, suitable for traveling or on-the-go pet owners. The dog food comes in a variety of flavors, including Chicken-Pumpkin, Pork-Beef-Pumpkin, Salmon-Pumpkin, Pork-Bison-Pumpkin and Pork-Duck-Pumpkin.
“We’re so excited to receive this recognition from Pet Innovation,” said Jeff Kalish, founder of Tucker’s. “We obviously love pets and believe that they are an extension of our lives and our biggest fans. With that said, they deserve the best that raw nutrition has to offer. All our meats are human-grade and sourced exclusively in the United States. In developing our formulas, we work with three out of the 10 zoological nutritionists in the world and it's these leading experts that have helped us create our 95/5 raw diets. We also feel it's important to take into account our retailer partners and their needs when creating our products.”
Dog Treat Functional Product of the Year
Pet’s Best Life won Dog Treat Functional Product of the Year for its Yummy Combs® Dog Treats. Yummy Combs are an oral care treat for dogs made in a patented honeycomb shape. According to Pet’s Best Life, the treat is the first thin-walled treat that can help floss and scrub a dog’s teeth from every angle and from the gum line to the upper and lower jaw.
“With periodontal disease being the number one disease in dogs, in the advanced stages dogs may be in significant pain,” Grant said. “However, pets tend to hide this out of instinct. Unfortunately, the effects of periodontal disease don’t remain confined to the teeth and gums — this disease can lead to problems with a dog’s organs and even cause heart disease if the bacteria enters the bloodstream.
“Revolutionary Yummy Combs Dog Treats are changing the way people treat their dogs,” Grant explained. “Yummy Combs is the perfect combination of revolutionary oral care, nutrition, advanced safety and wellness all for the pet’s best life. With its great taste, it’s the easiest, most fun way to floss and brush your dog’s teeth.”
Formulated with 47% protein, with chicken listed as the first ingredient, Yummy Combs provides nutritional, as well as oral benefits. The treat provides all essential amino acids dogs need, as well as vitamins, minerals, and twelve “wellness” ingredients to support digestion, cognitive function, skin and coat, and dental, heart and joint health. Yummy Combs are gluten- and grain-free, non-GMO and made with less starch compared to standard treats.
As well as an innovative, patented shape, the treats also feature a patent pending ingredient called Slick ‘M™, which makes the treat slippery when touched by saliva, water or gastric acid, allowing for easier digestion.
“We’re so honored that Yummy Combs have won this award from Pet Innovation,” said Joe Roetheli, PhD, co-founder of Pets Best Life. “Along with Board-Certified Veterinary Dentist Dr. Jan Bellows and Board-Certified Veterinary Nutritionist Dr. Lon Lewis, we set out to create a unique treat that encompasses the best in oral care, nutrition, enjoyment and safety. It’s the revolutionary shape that makes all the difference. Pet owners love to watch their pups get excited and dance, wiggle and waggle waiting for a Yummy Combs dog treat.”
Vitamin/Supplement Product of the Year
Ultimate Pet Nutrition won Vitamin/Supplement Product of the Year award for its Nutra Thrive™ For Dogs supplement, which supports overall dog health. Developed by veterinarians, Nutra Thrive comes in a powdered form and can help support muscle, teeth, digestive and bone health.
“Our pets' overall health and wellbeing are always at the forefront of an owner’s mind,” Grant said. “Ultimate Pet Nutrition Nutra Thrive For Dogs is paving the way for a new era of conscious pet health to help our furry friends and companions thrive. With a delicious taste dogs enjoy and their personal guarantee standing behind each product, Ultimate Pet Nutrition formulates some of the most advanced pet food, supplements and treats currently on the market.”
Nutra Thrive is formulated with a blend of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, amino acids, digestive enzymes, probiotics and phytonutrients and made without added fillers or artificial ingredients. The supplement can be added to a dog’s food for a nutrient boost.
“We are proud to accept this 2022 Pet Innovation Award for Nutra Thrive For Dogs, our first-of-its-kind canine supplement,” said Gary Richter, Ph.D., founder of Ultimate Pet Nutrition. “When we started Ultimate Pet Nutrition, our goal was to create a place where pet lovers can go for a premium, veterinarian-approved solutions for their furry friends. Nutra Thrive supports the overall health of our favorite companions.”
Among the above, several other pet food companies received awards:
- “I and love and you” won Cat Food Dry Product of the Year
- Carnivore Meat Company won Cat Food Frozen/Raw Product of the Year
- Bougie Bakes won Collagen Product of the Year
- Wild Earth won Dog Food Dry Product of the Year
- Different Dog won Dog Food Frozen/Raw Product of the Year
- Wolf Spring won Dog Food Functional Diet Product of the Year
- Green Paws won Dog Food Organic Product of the Year
- Hound & Gatos won Dog Food Wet Product of the Year
- Himalayan Pet Supply won Dog Food Grain Free Product of the Year
- Protenga won Dog Food Innovation of the Year
- Natural Cravings won Rawhide Alternative Product of the Year
- Dr. Becker’s Bites won Small Pet Treat Product of the Year
- Crumps Naturals won Dog Cookie Product of the Year
- Happy Howie’s All Natural Dog Treats won Dog Treat Roll Product of the Year
- The Bear & The Rat won Alternative Dog Treat of the Year
- Healthy Bud won Health Focused Dog Treat of the Year
- The Honest Kitchen won Pet Company of the Year
As well as innovative pet food, treats and supplements, the Pet Innovation Awards also recognized pet apparel, bowls, feeders, waterers, collars, leashes, harnesses, grooming, cleaning, health, housing, litter, toys and training products, as well as pet services and insurance.
“To be an Innovator takes passion, creativity and hard work,” Grant said. “Our 2022 winners are revolutionizing and advancing the pet industry through goods, services, and technology. We’re proud to announce the class of 2022 with their incredible innovative products and services.”
View the full 2022 winners of the Pet Innovation Awards.
Stay up to date on the latest pet food processing industry headlines on our News page.