Our pets bring us so much joy, and our connection to them brings us back to the simple and natural world, which can sometimes be difficult to find in an urban environment. More and more people have dogs - over 47% of households in North America! It is clear how much we love to have them in our lives! And, all these dogs must be fed, leading to a thriving pet food industry. Sales in the dog food market in Canada reached $1.2 billion last year, which is a lot of dog food!
However, producing such a large amount of food is very environmentally costly and, unfortunately, most dog foods are designed to be produced at the best price to maximize profits, therefore to the detriment of environment. Cheap and unhealthy ingredients like industrial meat, genetically modified corn, wheat, soy and other environmentally harmful products are consumed by our puppies in quantities almost unimaginable on a global scale.
At a time when we are increasingly noticing the negative effects of climate change, those of us concerned about the problem are looking for more environmentally friendly alternatives in all aspects of our lives, including what we feed our pets. Is there a more responsible way to feed them?
These are the thoughts that led Philippe, Paul, and Mathieu, three young Montrealers, to create Wilder Harrier in 2015. Here is their story....
The idea behind the creation of the company was to offer our four-legged companions healthy and quality food made for human consumption, whilst trying to minimize the ecological impact of its production. To achieve such a result, they have had to rethink the traditional kibble that existed for years in stores and create a recipe in the image of their mission.
The challenge was to combine all these features into one product whilst respecting their vision. They made a rather daring bet: to replace the traditional proteins used by big companies, such as chicken, pork or beef, with cricket protein. Insects are part of the regular diet of more than 2 billion people worldwide, but this is not a practice that is still very common in Canada, let alone in animal feed.
Thus, the first product created by Wilder Harrier is a biscuit in which cricket powder is the main ingredient. The perk of this product? It contains twice as much protein as beef, more calcium than milk, contains the 9 essential amino acids and provides more iron than spinach! Cricket culture is simple and less polluting - it requires much less vertical space and the production of a pound of crickets needs 2,000 times less water and emits 100 times less greenhouse gases than for the same amount of beef. Each biscuit contains only natural ingredients and no allergens, a quality praised by many consumers and veterinarians. This line varies in cranberry and banana peanut recipes.
A year after this launch, the young startup had gained a certain notoriety among its customers because of its innovative and environmentally friendly concept. Wilder Harrier’s vision was not limited to insect protein. In the fall of 2017, two new product lines appeared.
First, a product much in demand by Wilder Harrier's customers, a tender and "bite-sized" cookie; a treat mainly used for dog training, easier to chew and digest for puppies and older dogs. Tender treats retain the same qualities as their predecessor (cricket protein and natural ingredients), but come in three new recipes: Shiitake Turmeric, Honey Blueberry, and Pumpkin Carrot.
The second product, on the other hand, is entirely vegan, since it uses a source of plant protein: marine algae, called wakame. It is very high in nutritional value, low in calories, and minimal in fat, while helping to prevent heart disease, cancer, diabetes, blood clotting, and obesity, as well as promoting a good immune system. Wakame is a good source of magnesium, calcium, iron, and many vitamins (A, B2, C, D, E and K). In addition, its ecological footprint is minimal: it requires a very small amount of arable land and freshwater, being grown under water, and emissions of greenhouse gases related to its culture are negligible.
span style="font-weight: 400;">To further minimize its environmental impact, Wilder Harrier has partnered with the manufacturer of fresh juice LOOP to recover its fruit and vegetable pulp, which would otherwise be wasted! The range offers three new recipes: Cantaloupe Carrot, Pear Spinach, and Pineapple Ginger.
This is just the beginning of a great adventure for Wilder Harrier; the team is working on several exciting products, including complete dog food whilst always respecting the 4 pillars of its vision:
- Alternative proteins with a low environmental footprint
- Revaluation of "waste" from the food system
- Sourcing of hyper-local ingredients
- Contribution to repairing ecosystems
These three young entrepreneurs have a real ambition to shake up the traditional pattern of companies that produce without considering their ecological or health impact. Consume sustainably and healthily; this vision tends to be adopted by more and more consumers, and, hopefully, will spread faster and faster.
Don't forget to check their website here!