FAIRFIELD, CALIF. — Primal Pet Foods, a subsidiary of Primal Pet Group, is kicking off 2024 with an innovative new pet food format, fusing the ease of kibble with the nutritional benefits of raw. The innovation, dubbed Kibble in the Raw, aims to make raw nutrition more accessible in terms of feeding and price, while also delivering optimal nutrition and digestibility.

“It took three years of innovating to develop a convenient new product format that is deserving of the Primal name,” said Matt Koss, founder and chief product development officer for Primal Pet Foods. “With the launch of Kibble in the Raw, we have the unique opportunity to deliver the proven benefits of raw nutrition to kibble consumers with diets that meet the ancestral, biological needs of their dogs.”

The new diets contain raw protein with steam-cooked sorghum, which is pre-gelatinized to assist with digestibility and forming without subjecting other ingredients to high-heat temperatures typical of kibble processing. The company's proprietary process combines the protein and grain with cold-pressed fish oils and air-dried organic produce ingredients in a small-batch cold process, which is then freeze-dried to preserve freshness. The result is a nutritionally dense, shelf-stable diet that feeds like raw with the convenience of kibble.

“We are putting nearly 13 lbs of raw beef, pork, fish, or chicken into every 9-lb bag of Kibble in the Raw,” Koss said. “After freeze-drying, the digestibility and performance of the new Kibble in the Raw diets is in line with other Primal Raw Frozen and Freeze-Dried formats.”

Primal Pet Foods has been utilizing freeze-drying technology since 2011, and is now bringing its expertise in this area to the kibble aisle. Through freeze-drying, Primal Pet Foods is able to offer Kibble in the Raw as a lighter-weight alternative to traditional brown and round kibble. Feeding guidelines are similar to kibble by volume, scoop for scoop.

Primal Pet Foods' Kibble in the RawSource: Primal Pet Foods

“While this new and unique food format mimics the feeding experience of kibble, it doesn’t look anything like the highly processed pellets we expect from a traditional kibble; rather pieces of the wholesome, raw ingredients included in our new Kibble in the Raw recipes are visible in the kibble-sized bites,” Koss added.

Extensive research was done in collaboration with Kelly Swanson, Ph.D., and his team at the University of Illinois to validate the nutritional efficacy of Primal Pet Foods’ alternative formats, including Kibble in the Raw. This research includes a study of amino acid digestibility and caloric density of adult chicken varieties across the brand’s Kibble in the Raw, Primal Raw Frozen Nuggets, and Primal Freeze-Dried Nuggets portfolios. Results of that particular study — which proved average essential amino acid digestibility of 92% across all three formats — were published in the Journal of Animal Science in September.

“This study confirmed that Kibble in the Raw performs just as well as our existing frozen raw and freeze-dried diets from a digestibility and performance standpoint,” said James Templeman, Ph.D., director of nutrition and formulation for Primal Pet Foods. “Our research further demonstrates that freeze-drying is a highly effective method for preserving the critical nutrients found in our raw diets and validates our ability to develop nutritionally balanced and calorically dense formulas without sacrificing quality or digestibility.”

Kibble in the Raw will include five complete-and-balanced formulas: Chicken, Beef, Fish & Pork, Puppy, and Small Breed. All formulas will be available in 1.5-lb bags, with the Small Breed recipe also available in 4-lb bags, and the Chicken, Beef, Fish & Pork, and Puppy diets available in larger 9-lb bags.

“For more than two decades, our team has remained committed to feeding pets the way nature intended and has continued to look for ways to reach more dogs and cats with our mission,” said Jon Balousek, chief executive officer of Primal Pet Group.

Kibble in the Raw is produced at Primal Pet Foods’ state-of-the-art plant in Abilene, Texas, and will officially launch in the independent pet retail channel in January.

Read more about new pet food and treat products.