The new venture, which officially opened over the weekend, offers holistic and organic foods, treats, hygiene products, toys and bedding for cats, dogs and other smaller pets such as hamsters, gerbils and birds. The grocer has carried organic pet products for several years, but the market for organic pet products has widened recently. “Demand from the customer side has increased, and what’s available has expanded dramatically over the last few years,” said Lisa de Lima, vice president of My Organic Market. The new offshoot is small in scale, between 600 to 800 square feet, but offers products in all the basic categories you’d find at a PetSmart or Petco, said Lima.
Aside from organic and natural canned and dry foods, there’s raw frozen diets, organic cotton beds, hemp leashes and collars, toys made from certified organic and recyclable materials, organic shampoo, herbal-based vitamins and natural flea deterrents.
Just like for humans, pet care is headed in an organic and environmentally friendly direction, said Maggie Gallant, a trend reporter for Animal Planet, which is headquartered in Silver Spring. Gallant, who works in New York, attributes the change in part to the pet food recalls in early 2007, as well as the overall green trend. The recalls “really shook people up,” she said.
From 2006 to 2007, the organic foods and products segment grew in sales by about 25 percent, said veterinarian Dr. Carol Osborne, founder and president of the American Pet Institute.
And people are spending more on their pets overall. In 2007 Americans spent $41.2 billion on their pets, according to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association Inc. This includes $16.2 billion in food, $9.8 billion in supplies and over-the-counter medicine, and $3 billion in grooming and boarding services. Total expenditures are expected to reach $43.4 billion for 2008.
My Organic Market currently has stores in Rockville, College Park, Alexandria, Columbia East and Frederick. Mighty Healthy Pet is located near the company’s College Park location.
by Whitney Blake, The Examiner, WASHINGTON