AUSTIN, TEXAS — Human-grade raw dog food brand Maev recently launched its first complete-and-balanced diet specifically designed for puppies. According to Maev, it is the only premium, direct-to consumer (DTC) pet food company to offer a functional formula designed to support the growth and development of puppies.

Founded in 2018 by Katie Spies, Maev offers various human-grade, flash-frozen dog food products. According to Spies, consumer demand and a gap in the market prompted the company to launch its Puppy Formula.

“We originally just had an all-stages formula,” Spies shared with Pet Food Processing. “But we found that a lot of our customers were asking about puppy-specific nutrition, and whenever they would ask about puppy nutrition, we would hear a lot of commentary about how puppies have very specific nutritional needs relating to growth and development, cognition, vision, etc., because puppies are going through this very intensive portion of their life.”

According to Maev, it is the first “better-for-you” pet food company to offer a life-stage specific formula.

“When a lot of our customers were asking about [a puppy formula] we decided to dig in a little further and we found that most of the companies, that we call ‘better for you,’ don't offer life-stage specific formulas,” Spies explained. “They only offer an all life-stage formula, which doesn't really make sense, because if a dog owner is really wanting to invest in better nutrition and they want to start at puppy-hood, then there should be a diet that is nutritionally optimized for that stage of life and has the right nutrients, micros and macros for puppies.”

Similar to Maev’s flagship product, Raw Food for dogs, the new Puppy Formula is flash-frozen to preserve nutrients and also to promote oral health and plaque removal. Developed with aid from veterinary nutritionists, the diet builds upon the company’s Raw Food formula, supplemented with functional ingredients that provide an additional boost of nutrition.

The product is a chicken and egg-based formula and contains fresh produce, probiotics and Bovine Colostrum to help support puppies in their transition from milk to food.

“[The Puppy Formula] is extremely high in protein, which is great for muscle and bone development in puppies,” Spies shared. “We have a couple of functional ingredients that are included in the formula, one of which is probiotics for digestive health. Since puppies are really developing their digestive systems and their metabolisms and being weaned off milk and on to actual food… incorporating probiotics is really important to strengthen digestive health.

“We also incorporate Bovine Colostrum, which is a superfood,” Spies added. “I don't see it in many pet foods. It's extremely powerful and helps support digestion, bone and muscle development. It's pretty hard to find, so we're excited to get to include it in the formula.”

As well as probiotics and Bovine Colostrum, Maev’s Puppy Formula also contains USDA-certified chicken, chicken gizzards, blueberries, green beans, kale, peanut butter, sweet potatoes, zucchini, chicory root and flaxseed, all to promote immune, gut, digestive and cellular health.

Alongside the Puppy Formula, Maev offers a complete-and-balanced diet for dogs, a Daily Vitamin Bar and a Bone Broth Topper, all formulated with functional ingredients. Maev’s current R&D process for its products stems mostly from customer demand. According to the company, its Daily Vitamin Bars and Bone Broth Topper were requested by Maev customers seeking key functional ingredients.

“Originally, we started as a raw food company,” Spies shared. “We were beta testing the raw food… and we got enough customers asking for just functional ingredients that we decided to make a functional product, which are the Daily Vitamin Bars and Bone Broth Topper.”

Spies founded Maev after her dog began experiencing health issues and spent nine months walking dogs. She began making her dog’s food before opening up her kitchen to feed other dogs.  

“When my dog started having health issues, I couldn't find anything in stores that met our vet’s checklist, so I had to switch him to a homemade diet,” Spies said. “I also met a lot of other people who said they had some similar issues: they were making their own food or their dog wasn't doing very well eating processed foods, and they were looking for something better. I would let people know that I was making dog food myself and they would ask me if I could make a double batch.

“I accidentally started making a lot of pet food in my apartment and people would come pick it up,” Spies added. “It started out as just a problem I could solve for myself and then for a few other people.”

Spies leverages her experience in engineering and industrial design to develop products for Maev that are meant to be as convenient for consumers as possible.

“Ultimately, form and function matters,” she explained. “If a consumer can pour dog food directly out of the bag, it's way easier for than if you have to microwave it or thaw it for twelve hours in advance.

Despite using hard-to-find ingredients, like Bovine Colostrum, Maev has been able to overcome a difficult supply chain environment facing many pet food processors. According to Spies, the company has had to tackle supply chain disruptions from the get-go since its official launch in 2020, just in time for the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The week that we launched was the same week that COVID-19 shut down a lot of cities in the United States,” Spies explained. “From the jump, we have been dealing with supply chain disruptions.”

Maev originally self-manufactured its products in a commercial kitchen, but has since partnered with a co-manufacturer to meet demand. Because the company does not source its ingredients or materials from international suppliers and has only dealt with domestic freight, it has been able to overcome the current volatile environment, according to Spies.

“We've been able to mitigate a lot of supply chain disruptions because it's been a couple of years of dealing with everything going on in the supply chain world,” she said. “Originally, we dealt with a lot of disruptions and tried to figure out how to mitigate them. But now that we have much stronger partners, and are no longer self-manufactured, we don't have nearly the level of headaches that we used to have.”

Alongside its focus on raw nutrition, Maev specifically targets Millennial and Gen Z pet parents, who are generally more concerned about pet health and wellness and more likely to shop online for premium products.

“The majority of dog owners in the United States actually are millennials and Gen Z, which is really interesting,” Spies explained. “About half of Millennials now have a dog and Gen Z has more dogs per capita than Millennials.”

“We know that Millennial and Gen Z pet parents care a lot about their dog and think differently about the role their dog plays in their life, [compared to older generations],” she added. “These consumers also care a lot about pet health and wellness, are deeply curious about the ingredients in their food, look at nutrition labels before buying food, and they're also comfortable shopping online. So, [targeting these generations] makes perfect sense.”

According to Spies, Maev has witnessed significant success in the direct-to-consumer (DTC) channel and subscription-based purchasing method due to many aspects, including extensive R&D, targeting of Millennials and Gen Z, dedication to raw formulations, and a commitment to showcasing its products online in a more three-dimensional way.

In conjunction with the launch of the Puppy Formula, Spies also hinted at future expansion opportunities for Maev. Currently, the company has 15 employees and has open positions throughout many of its departments.

“We have a couple of new products launching very soon,” Spies shared. “We're actively in the process of launching on Amazon, which is really exciting for us as a lot of people shop for pet products there, and historically, we’ve only sold products on

“We’re excited to meet more dog owners on other channels like Amazon,” she added. “And we have a lot of growth ahead of us.”

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