Premium dog food: From Ashburton to Asia

By Carly Gooch The Press

A dog-loving couple have created a grain-free pet food that’s being scoffed down across the country and heading to shelves in Asia.

Kiwi Country grain-free dog food was created by Ashburton couple Jeremy and Mary Stewart, pictured with their wire-haired dachshund Frankie.

Based in Ashburton, Jeremy and Mary Stewart are passionate about our best friends, and with a pooch’s lifespan only a fraction of their owners, the couple say they are keen to feed them the best food possible to lengthen their tail-wagging time on earth.

With this in mind, the pair created Kiwi Country - a premium grain-free dog food that was attainable for pet owners, Jeremy said.

“It’s been easy in New Zealand to buy premium foods outside of the supermarket but those types of food haven’t been available in supermarkets at supermarket price points.

“New Zealand’s just done so well with ultra premium food, but it’s just time to catch up in the supermarket.”

Since their product launched in June, the Stewarts have reached 160 supermarkets around the country with nutritionally balanced kibble that’s getting rave reviews.

Seeing Kiwi Country dog food on supermarket shelves has been a thrill for the Stewarts.


“Kiwi Country is on the shelves beside all the big important brands. I just about have to pinch myself when I see where we are,” Mary said.

They had just started exporting to Korea, and interest was piquing elsewhere too, they said. Singapore had shown interest, as had the United State.

Back in New Zealand, people were calling, emailing and sending in pictures with their dogs to congratulate the couple on a dog food well done, Mary said.

Some messaged with reviews about their dog’s health and coat improving while others said their “fussy” dogs were finally chowing down something they enjoyed.

The three varieties - chicken, lamb and beef - contain multiple nutritional ingredients, including offal, liver, tripe, fish oil, green-lipped mussel, kiwifruit, dried kelp, cranberries, flaxseed and pumpkin.

More than 60% of the ingredients were real animal products, Jeremy said, which was a compromise from the 80% he originally wanted in the biscuits.

The manufacturer, King Country Pet Food New Zealand Ltd in Taumarunui, told Jeremy the dried biscuits “couldn’t possibly” be made with such a high percentage of meat so he went away and made some “slight adjustments”, he said.

The recipe was then sent to an Australian dog nutritionist, which led to a few more tweaks, then was reviewed by a second nutritionist who suggested a mineral and vitamin mix.

Even the fussiest of dogs, including cavoodles, have been chowing down on the premium dog food

Trials then included palatability, to ensure the four-legged consumers went face first into their dog bowls instead of turning up their noses, and it was a success, Jeremy said.

Cavoodles were one of the most popular breeds in the country, “but also among the fussiest”, Mary said.

“We were heartened to have good results and feedback from cavoodles.”

The Stewarts’ 4-year-old wire-haired dachshund, Frankie, had been along for the ride, going through “so many different pet foods”, but they were finally on to a winner with their own brand, Mary said.

Described by Jeremy as “a boofer”, Frankie loved to be “master of his domain and announce when anyone arrives”.

People loved their dogs “so much”, Mary said.

“Everyone feels that way about their dog and they do have so much personality.

“Sadly our pets just don’t age the way we do. If we can keep them as well for as many years as possible through good quality food - that’s a lovely thing to be able to give people.”

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