The Journal Gazette
 
 
Tuesday, January 12, 2021 1:00 am

Ben & Jerry's goes to dogs

Ice cream firm latest to dive into pet market

DEE-ANN DURBIN | Associated Press

Think your dog deserves dessert? So does Ben & Jerry's.

The venerable Vermont ice cream company said Monday it's introducing a line of frozen dog treats, its first foray into the lucrative pet food market. Doggie Desserts, sold in four-ounce cups, go on sale in U.S. groceries and pet stores later this month.

The treats come in two flavors – pumpkin with cookies and peanut butter with pretzels. Both are made with a base of sunflower butter. They're made from the same ingredients Ben & Jerry's uses in its non-dairy human desserts.

Ben & Jerry's is the latest food company to pivot to pets, sensing opportunity as more Americans acquire furry friends. The number of U.S. households with pets rose 6.5% to 84.9 million between 2015 and 2020, according to the American Pet Products Association, a trade group.

General Mills, which makes Cheerios and Haagen-Dazs ice cream, bought the Blue Buffalo pet food brand in 2018. Jelly maker J.M. Smucker Co. bought Big Heart Pet Brands – which makes Meow Mix and Milk Bone – in 2015. Three years later, Smucker acquired Ainsworth Pet Nutrition, which makes Nutrish pet food. And in April, Nestle bought British natural pet food brand Lily's Kitchen. Nestle has owned the Purina brand since 2001.

Spending on dog treats has ballooned, jumping 44%, to $5.5 billion, between 2015 and 2020, according to Euromonitor, a data firm. Millennials in particular spend lavishly on their pets and look for pet products with human-grade ingredients, Ben & Jerry's said.

The treats – $2.99 per cup or $4.99 for four – will be placed in grocery store frozen food aisles, a few doors down from Ben & Jerry's ice cream.


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