NAPIER, NEW ZEALAND — ZIWI, a premium pet food producer based in New Zealand, is leveraging proprietary processing technology to bring true innovation to ultra-premium pet food aisles, while also closing the price gap between premium kibbles and alternative formats, like air-dried. The company first showcased the new dog and cat food line, dubbed ZIWI Peak Steam & Dried, at Global Pet Expo 2024 in March.

“We consider ourselves leaders in air-drying technology, and that’s really been the core of where we’ve operated, but we’ve been exploring ways to build on that knowledge and technology to reach more pets while staying true to our values around peak nutrition,” Grainne Saunders, portfolio innovation manager at ZIWI, told Pet Food Processing. “It’s really about building on air-drying to create something new, but not losing that sense of what we’re great at.”

Innovators at ZIWI spent about two years developing the Z-MicroSteam™ process, which is intended to build on the company’s expertise in air-drying technology. Z-MicroSteam involves exposing blended ingredients to a small amount of steam, which aerates the product before it heads to a two-stage air-drying step.

ZIWI Steam & Dried pet food piece rendering

Two benefits of the Z-MicroSteam™ process include enhanced palatability and a distinctive texture designed to entice even the most finicky pets.

| Source: ZIWI

This proprietary process creates a uniquely textured product that delivers meat, organs and produce in a shelf-stable format. Saunders described the texture of Steam & Dried as airy, crunchy and highly palatable.

“We know cats are a little harder to please — they can be a bit pickier around food,” Saunders said. “One of the things we’re most pleased with is how we’ve made this product, because for cats, we know texture is so important. So, with our Z-MicroSteam technology, we’ve been able to focus on that texture piece.”

Alongside this new processing method, ZIWI has also adopted new ingredients for its Steam & Dried portfolio. Building on the company’s nutritional philosophy of providing peak nutrition through high-meat inclusions from locally raised, ethical sources, Steam & Dried touts several fruit and vegetable ingredients that speak to functional health benefits and holistic nutrition, Saunders said.

“The new range has all of the qualities and credentials that ZIWI has built its brand on including ethically sourced raw meat and wild-caught seafood, all from New Zealand,” said Suse Cassidy, general manager of marketing and innovation at ZIWI. “Gentle processing methods preserve the nutritional integrity of the ingredients.

“What makes our new Steam & Dried range different is the addition of functional ingredients — fruit and or vegetables for dogs to support digestion and gut health, and wild-caught fish for cats, rich in Omega 3 for skin health and a shiny coat, all of which are concerns for pet parents,” Cassidy added.

ZIWI Steam & Dried pet food in bowls

Steam & Dried can be fed as a complete-and-balanced meal or mixed with other ZIWI products for added palatability and variety.

| Source: ZIWI

Skin and coat health for cats and gut health for dogs were two key need states identified by ZIWI in developing its new Steam & Dried portfolio.

“There is a long list of benefits offered by formulating with raw meat and organs, but those were two we really wanted to focus on, knowing how important they are to pet parents,” she added. “For dogs, we focused on digestive health because we know that’s something pet parents talk a lot about.”

For dogs, ZIWI Peak Steam & Dried is available in three formulas — Cage-Free Chicken with Orchard Fruits, Grass-Fed Lamb with Green Vegetables, and Grass-Fed Beef with Pumpkin — all of which feature 85% premium animal-based ingredients alongside fruits and vegetables as natural fiber sources. The dog diets also include chicory root, a source of natural prebiotic inulin, to promote the growth of good bacteria in the gut.

ZIWI Peak Steam & Dried is also available for cats in three recipes — Cage-Free Chicken with Whole Mackerel, Grass-Fed Beef with Southern Blue Whiting, and Wild South Pacific Fish. Each formula features between 87% and 90% animal-derived ingredients, including whole Mackerel, Southern Blue Whiting, Hoki and Sardines. Inclusions of locally sourced fish from New Zealand deliver Omega 3 fatty acids aimed at supporting skin and coat health in felines.

Cows in Hawke's Bay, New Zealand

ZIWI’s entire portfolio, including its new Steam & Dried offerings, feature locally and ethically sourced animal ingredients, like grass-fed beef seen here near Hawke’s Bay.

| Source: ZIWI

“For cat parents, we know that skin health and a glossy coat are really important, and that’s not just because people want their cats to look nice — it’s actually a big indicator of health in a cat,” Saunders said. “That’s one area we’ve been able to address in all of our cat food recipes through the inclusion of wild-caught fish.”

This Steam & Dried solution is also intended to make premium, alternative formats more accessible to a greater number of pet parents. Currently, there is a sizeable price gap between premium kibble and alternative pet food formats. In 2019, Statista reported the average price of air-dried pet food formats at around $10.00 per lb, while the average price of freeze-dried pet food formats was upwards of $32.00 per lb. This is compared to traditional kibble’s average price of under $2.00 per lb, and recent years’ inflation has only served to widen this gap.  

ZIWI Steam & Dried dog and cat foods aim to bridge this divide and allow more pet parents to venture into the more premium pet food space, without breaking the bank.

“ZIWI Peak Steam & Dried is a new alternative-to-raw, complete-and-balanced food that provides an entry level into the ultra-premium category by providing premium nutrition, at a more accessible price for ZIWI consumers,” Cassidy concluded.

ZIWI Peak Steam & Dried can be fed as a complete-and-balanced meal, as a base topped with ZIWI Peak Air-Dried, or served alongside ZIWI Peak’s canned diets as a mixer or topper.

Read more about product development, ingredients and formulation.