BERLIN — Younger consumers are beginning to dominate the CPG market, demanding more from the companies they love regarding social initiatives. In the pet food space, these initiatives go beyond people and planet to encompass the very consumers pet food products are actually meant for — pets.

Caring for pets in need is the foundation of one such pet food brand — STRAYZ Petfood GmbH. Established in 2020, the Berlin-based, social pet food brand leverages its premium organic pet nutrition products to support stray animals in need, hence its name. Madeline Metzsch co-founded the brand upon witnessing an all-too-familiar, heart-wrenching scene: a street pet desperately in need of help.

“I’ve always been a cat lady,” Metzsch told Pet Food Processing. “During my vacation in the Seychelles Islands, East Africa, in 2019, I met a street cat named Mushki living near our guesthouse. The management wanted to get rid of her because some guests were afraid of the cat, but she kept coming back and was pregnant. It broke my heart that I couldn’t take her back to Germany with me.”

STRAYZ’s founders, from left to right: Madeline Metzsch, Saskia te Kaat and Stefanie Zillessen

STRAYZ’s founders, from left to right: Madeline Metzsch, Saskia te Kaat and Stefanie Zillessen. 

Source: STRAYZ Petfood GmbH

This self-proclaimed Cat Lady noticed several other street pets during her stay in the Seychelles Islands, further driving home the need for real change. Upon returning from her vacation, Metzsch partnered up with two former colleagues — Saskia te Kaat and Stefanie Zillessen — to create a social pet food brand, and STRAYZ was born. 

“By November 2020, we had formalized our concept, quit our jobs, and started STRAYZ to save all street animals worldwide using the Buy 1 Give 1 model,” Metzsch shared. “By selling premium organic pet food and ethical fashion for animal lovers, we collect donations for animals in need.”


Becoming social

STRAYZ’s “Buy 1 Give 1” model is simply that; for every product sold, the brand makes a donation to an animal welfare organization that supports pets in need. 

According to Mars, Incorporated’s “State of Pet Homelessness Project,” which examines pet homelessness in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Greece, India, Indonesia, Japan, Lithuania, Mexico, New Zealand, the Philippines, Poland, South Africa, Turkey, Thailand, the United States and the United Kingdom, almost 35% of cats and dogs are living on the streets or are in a shelter waiting for a home. Throughout these 20 countries, there are 143 million street dogs and 12 million in shelters, and 203 million street cats and 4 million in shelters, representing a total of nearly 362 million homeless dogs and cats. 

Looking at the entire globe, animal welfare organizations estimate there are more than 680 million stray dogs and cats. Clearly, animal homelessness is a significant problem — one that STRAYZ is up to tackle. 

“We operate using the Buy 1 Give 1 model, meaning that for every product we sell, we make a donation to animal welfare organizations,” Metzsch said. “So, when you feed your dog a can of STRAYZ, you’re also feeding a dog in need.”

According to Metzsch, since STRAYZ’s inception the brand has partnered with 12 animal welfare organizations, from Europe to as far as India. 

STRAYZ donates to various animal welfare organizations, like the Steet Cats Rescue

STRAYZ’s provides donations to various animal welfare organizations, including Street Cats Rescue in Concil, Costa de la Luz.

Source: Street Cats Rescue

“Through our efforts, we’ve filled over 3.7 million [pets’] bowls, funded more than 13,300 medical treatments and supported 683 neutering procedures,” she said. “Our goal is to make a tangible difference for stray animals while offering high-quality products to pet owners.”

STRAYZ offers various donation categories based on the type of products sold. For every can of cat or dog food sold, the brand donates funds to organizations to help feed pets, with donations for cats beginning at €0.10 ($0.11 USD) and for dogs beginning at €0.15 ($0.16 USD). The brand also sells merchandise, like socks and bags, for which each product sold provides €4 (about $4.28 USD) worth of medical donations, including vaccinations and flea treatments, to animal welfare organizations. STRAYZ also provides neuter and spay donations to help address the root of pet homelessness. 

“Beyond feeding street animals, we understand that addressing the stray problem requires a more holistic approach,” Metzsch explained. “That’s why we also offer products that support spaying and neutering programs.”

According to Metzsch, this social effort to help put an end to pet homelessness has strongly resonated with consumers. She explained that the brand’s current consumer demographic primarily consists of women ages 20 to 45, with most belonging to the Millennial and Gen Z cohorts. These generations are well-known for supporting brands with ethical values that match their own.

“We are incredibly proud of the level of engagement within our STRAYZ community,” Metzsch added. “Our fans are not only loyal customers but also active advocates for our mission. They often step in to help us with initiatives, such as sharing posts to find homes for animals in need. This sense of community is what makes STRAYZ unique, and it’s reflected in the dedication of our customers — like the one who even got a tattoo of one of our illustrations.”


Transparency through organic

Alongside its dedication to pets in need, another cornerstone of STRAYZ is a dedication to high-quality nutrition. The brand’s current portfolio includes a litany of products, focusing on wet pet foods as well as freeze-dried and wet treats, all formulated to be species appropriate. 

As pet parents, Metzsch and te Kaat had become familiar with the typical products in the pet food aisle and found it a struggle to find a brand they trusted while also navigating heavy marketing claims. In developing STRAYZ, the women collaborated with pet food nutritionists to create better formulas touting clean labels and only essential ingredients.

“We aimed to create simple yet effective formulas without any unnecessary additives or fillers,” Metzsch shared. “You can pronounce all of our ingredients, and we’re proud to be fully transparent about what’s in our products. We believe every pet owner deserves to know exactly what they’re feeding their dog or cat.

“Our focus on transparency and straightforward recipes has resonated with many pet owners who, like us, are tired of vague ingredient lists and questionable marketing,” she added. “By keeping things simple, we can ensure quality and build trust with our customers, while offering nutritious food that pets love.”

STRAYZ Petfood's dog nutrition productsSource: STRAYZ Petfood GmbH

For felines, the brand’s assortment includes six wet, complete-and-balanced formulas that pair a protein with a vegetable to meet cats’ high protein requirements. The wet cat foods include Chicken & Zucchini, Duck & Sweet Potato, Salmon & Broccoli, Goose & Pumpkin, and new releases Beef & Beetroot in Sauce and Turkey & Carrot in Gravy. STRAYZ’s feline offerings also include freeze-dried treats — 100% Deer and 100% Salmon — that are made with single ingredients, and wet treats called Cat Soups in Chicken & Carrot and Salmon & Rosemary recipes. 

For canines, the brand’s offerings include four wet, complete-and-balanced diets: Salmon with Potatoes, Spinach & Berries; Beef with Sweet Potato, Carrot & Pear; and Turkey with Pumpkin, Fennel & Rice; and Veggie with Lupine, Amaranth & Vegetables. The brand also offers treats for dogs, including two freeze-dried, single-ingredient treats — 100% Deer and 100% Salmon — and a Veggie Dog Snack. 

In developing its formulas, STRAYZ’s juggles its ethos with species-appropriate nutrients, something that can be extremely complex when it comes to cat nutrition specifically. As obligate carnivores, felines rely on animal-derived proteins to get their essential nutrients, which can carry a heavy environmental and ethical burden. Other players in the market have begun exploring alternative proteins, from insects and novel sources to cultured and fermented proteins, to meet cats’ nutrient requirements while also minimizing impacts on the environment. 

But STRAYZ approaches this through a different method: leveraging organic, local sourcing. Organic farming often faces stricter regulations regarding animal welfare, which offers better living conditions for the animals compared to large-scale factory farms. Local sourcing also allows the brand to reduce its environmental impact, Metzsch noted. 

The brand uses organic meats from local farmers and chooses certain cuts that are unfit for human consumption to ensure no animal is slaughtered solely for its products. 

“We use meat that contains too much fat for human consumption, along with nutrient-rich organs, because we believe that using prime cuts like filet in pet food just feels wrong,” Metzsch explained. “By choosing organic ingredients and minimizing waste, we aim to offer pet food that’s both ethically conscious and environmentally responsible.”

“By choosing organic ingredients and minimizing waste, we aim to offer pet food that’s both ethically conscious and environmentally responsible,” said Madeline Metzsch, STRAYZ Petfood GmbH.

This sourcing means that the brand’s complete-and-balanced cat foods are species-appropriate, providing up to 95% meat content, according to Metzsch. The cat foods also contain small amounts of vegetables to support digestive health.

Dogs, on the other hand, are not obligate carnivores, meaning that STRAYZ can be a bit more flexible with these formulas. According to Metzsch, the brand’s complete-and-balanced dog foods are formulated with about 50% meat content, balanced with a mixture of fruits and vegetables. The brand also offers a vegan dog diet and a vegetable-based dog treat.

“Our approach reflects our commitment to offering pet food that’s tailored to the specific dietary requirements of cats and dogs,” she added. “By prioritizing protein for cats and a balanced mix for dogs, we aim to provide optimal nutrition for your pets without unnecessary fillers or byproducts.”

In addition to proteins, the brand’s formulas are also made with other organic ingredients, something Metzsch, te Kaat and Zillessen believe is imperative to the brand’s animal welfare ethics. Animal welfare and responsible sourcing have only just begun to emerge as pet food product trends, largely brought on by younger pet parents. 

“Beyond our internal ethics, we recognized that many younger pet owners also value transparency about the source of their pet’s food,” Metzsch added. “These owners are often vegetarian or vegan themselves or are seeking to reduce their meat consumption due to climate or ethical concerns. By using organic ingredients, we ensure that our products reflect these values and offer a sustainable choice for pet owners who care about where their pet’s food comes from.

“…Our commitment to sourcing from local organic farms helps us contribute to a more sustainable food system while providing high-quality pet food,” she added. “This approach allows us to offer a product that aligns with our customers’ ethical and environmental beliefs, reinforcing the social impact aspect of STRAYZ.”


Small but mighty

STRAYZ is currently headquartered in Berlin and consists of a mere team of eight. Not only is the brand founded by women, but it is completely run by women, a rarity in the pet food industry. 

“We focus on maintaining a lean organizational structure that emphasizes self-management,” Metzsch explained. “This approach allows us to be agile and adaptable as we scale.”

To produce its products, STRAYZ works with two manufacturers in Bavaria, Germany, that align with its ethos, touting sustainability, high-quality and ethical production practices. 

According to Metzsch, the brand’s organizational structure and partnership with trusted manufacturers allow STRAYZ to meet the evolving needs of the pet industry, as well as the continuously shifting demands of pet parents. 

“Our operations are designed to be efficient and flexible, allowing us to innovate and respond to changing market demands. At the heart of everything we do is a commitment to transparency, quality and social responsibility, guiding our day-to-day activities and long-term strategy,” said Madeline Metzsch, STRAYZ Petfood GmbH.

“Our operations are designed to be efficient and flexible, allowing us to innovate and respond to changing market demands,” she added. “At the heart of everything we do is a commitment to transparency, quality and social responsibility, guiding our day-to-day activities and long-term strategy.”

Retail wise, the brand has long embraced an omnichannel strategy, recognizing that pet parents look both in-store and online to find nutrition for their four-legged companions. In fact, prior to STRAYZ, te Kaat helped develop the sales and go-to-market strategy for oat-based dairy company Oatly for the DACH (Germany, Austria and Switzerland) region, and applied this experience to benefit STRAYZ. 

“We knew we wanted to create a direct-to-consumer ‘love brand,’ but we also understood the importance of a solid retail foundation to manage rising customer acquisition costs and reach a broader audience,” Metzsch said.

According to Metzsch, STRAYZ started a crowdfunding campaign in January 2021, which served as a pre-sale to help the brand determine its fit in the market. By April that same year, the brand had officially launched its e-commerce platform,, which continues to be at the heart of the brand. All of STRAYZ’s products are available on the site, as well as a flexible subscription offering that allows consumers to set specific delivery intervals and ensure continued donation. 

Later in September 2021, the brand hit physical retail shelves via Budni, a German drugstore chain, and later in 2022 launched into Rossmann, a European drugstore chain, expanding its brick-and-mortar retail footprint to well over 2,200 locations. In 2023, the brand’s products became available online via Fressnapf, ZooRoyal and zooplus. Beginning this year, STRAYZ was also added to Fressnapf’s in-store offerings. 

For STRAYZ, in-store and online retail go hand-in-hand as the brand continues to witness a significant benefit from its omnichannel strategy in the form of consumer awareness.

“Our retail strategy has played a crucial role in our growth, allowing us to establish a healthy brand that’s not solely dependent on online advertising,” Metzsch revealed.  “We’ve also observed an interesting correlation between retail and online shop metrics — when we launch with a new retail partner, our online sales often see a boost.

“Additionally, our retail partners benefit from our online advertising and broader reach,” she added. “We’re thrilled that so many retailers have embraced our mission in such a short time, and we look forward to continuing our growth across various channels.”

Looking toward the horizon, the brand will continue to advance upon its mission. STRAYZ is currently seeking retail partners throughout the European Union to help further its business and, most importantly, its mission to help stray dogs and cats.  

“While it's a massive undertaking, we're committed to making a difference one stray at a time,” Metzsch said. “To achieve this, we plan to expand our product portfolio and continue our retail growth. In the coming years, we aim to enter additional European markets and establish new partnerships with retailers who share our vision.

“We’re excited about the road ahead and look forward to expanding our reach and increasing our impact through product innovation, retail expansion and continued support for animal welfare organizations,” she concluded.

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