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Love at First Bite

Westies & Besties talks to Christopher Adderley, CEO of Jack Wolf, a family-owned natural pet company, on why his dogs, Jack and Maggie, led him and partner Luiza on the path to feeding thousands of dogs around the United Kingdom

By Bernard Roberts

Jack Wolf is a now a leading raw food manufacturer in the UK which continues to be synonymous with good quality food from a company people trust. What do you do differently to some other raw food providers?

From the start, we have sought to produce the freshest products available in a modern facility to a higher standard than that expected of human food. Particularly because this is a product people will put in their fridges and we approached the issue from the consumers perspective. All our products are made exclusively from frozen ingredients and we fill below freezing to our finished packaging.

Raw food can sometimes appear to be expensive to those contemplating making the switch from kibble and some raw food manufacturers are offering cheaper produce. Explain how these companies may be cutting corners.

Raw food can be slightly more expensive, but it is also considerably better value for money. There are no cheap fillers – and the fruit and vegetables which are used can in many instances cost more than the meat owing to the washing, blanching, laser sorting and Individually Quick Frozen (IQF) freezing process. Corners can be cut in the collection, process, storage, and transportation stages particularly if using fresh. Inspectors do not sample products or ingredients for bacteria and instead entrust that to manufacturers.

Years ago, people used to feed their dogs leftovers from dinner and people would literally throw their dog a bone. Do you think we are going full circle in terms of moving towards fresher, more natural ingredients again for dogs? If so, why are people changing their minds on what to feed their dogs?

Back in the previous global financial crisis, the pet market was a standout market which continued to perform well. We were changing as consumers, more health conscious. In addition, we observed the personification of pets – they became little people in a sense. From looking at the back of packets/ingredients to see what we were feeding ourselves; this habit spilt over into the pet market.

Your own dogs, Jack and Maggie, inspired you to create Jack Wolf and you’ve said that they were fantastic experts when it came to trying out your new food. Did you have any reservations at that time about feeding them raw food? If not, why not?

We had not fed raw before so not going to lie it was, though not entirely outlandish, a little strange to begin with. Akin to so many other people’s accounts, it rapidly became par for the course. We were concerned a little about bacteria and the quality of products available. This did fuel our desire to contribute to the improvement upon what was available in the marketplace.

Everyone has their own opinion about feeding dogs raw food but what do you say to people whose vet has told them raw food is dangerous?

Vets, a bit like the society they mirror will hold different perspectives. There are many vets who are supportive and some, to be fair to them, who are more nuanced on the subject. I think it is important not to be too tribalistic. One of the issues with research/evidence is there is not a great deal on raw food, but my personal view derives from ‘bad news travels fast.’ In that vein, if you join an online group such as Westie Advice Group (WAG) you’ll be bombarded with positive stories!

What do you think the future of the pet raw food industry looks like?

There are competing trends of ‘fresh food’ options which include the cooked and then frozen; in a sense, a traditional cooked wet pet food except it is frozen into a packet. But broadly speaking there are a variety of formats emerging and raw forms the biggest part of that trend. Freeze-dried products are unlikely to compete with raw because it is a very expensive process.