Northampton Raw Dog Food stuck in limbo as demand outstrips space for ambitious locally-made businesses

The business is now operating out of the old carpet showroom it started in, although it now looks quite different

A new pet food business in Northampton is poised to expand after four years of growth in the raw pet food market.

Northampton Raw Dog Food, currently found in Blisworth, was founded by lifelong animal lover Zena Taylor who owns two Rhodesian Ridgebacks.

The company provides dog owners with raw and unprocessed meats for the enjoyment of our canine companions.

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Demand for raw food took even Zena by surprise

This is said to be a much better, species-specific diet that is believed to lead to better health for the animals, as well as better breath. But it took a lot of inconvenience before Zena finally decided to start her business.

The local entrepreneur started her raw food journey in 2017 when she was really struggling to find a decent supplier, or indeed anyone with good feeding advice.

She described having to “fly away” as there was no one she could ask about it and classes on the subject were scarce.

The supply was also quite sporadic, with Zena describing a shopping trip for the dogs taking her to several places for raw food and then for all the extras like wings, fish, etc. In all, it was costing him £ 200 a month just to feed his dogs.

It is not difficult to see where the nickname “Iceland for dogs” comes from.

So, finally, Zena installed her first two freezers in the back of her husband’s carpet showroom and filled them with human grade meats, which means they are of a quality that people can eat safely.

Zena said: “I searched for some good dog food that wouldn’t cost the earth and ordered my first batch to fill my two freezers. Then I put a little post on Facebook on Friday, just to my friends, saying I had it raw dog food and if anyone wants to go out I sell it much cheaper than anywhere else.

“Saturday morning I walked into my husband’s showroom and there were about 20 people around my two freezers and I said to my husband ‘I think I have to buy a few more freezers.”

Today, after four years of growth, the company has multiplied its freezers tenfold, from three to thirty, offering as many different brands of meat. On top of that, the company offers various treats, toys, and other pet accessories, making it a one stop shop for any raw feeding animal’s needs.

Even dog ice cream is offered, as well as collars, leashes and other accessories

The meats are stored in sealed containers not too unlike supermarket meats for humans. There is no mess and, most importantly, no smell either. They also offer UK-wide refrigerated overnight delivery for furry friends who can’t make it to the store, with deliveries going all the way to Cornwall.

This has earned the company the nickname “Iceland for Dogs”.

Zena added, “I employ local people and we offer help and advice to customers who eat raw foods.

“Over the years we have built a large customer base and seen incredible transformations in dogs.

“We have built a real community of people and it is so nice to be able to watch the dogs grow up and be healthy.

“We also fundraise for dog charities like Animals In Needs and Nanna Dog Rescue.”

But success has been a double-edged sword for the local business. With demand now exceeding the limits of their current premises, Zena is looking for new premises to expand, where she intends to hire even more local staff. The plan is to use larger premises to store more meats, ordered in bulk to reduce costs and impact on the environment.

Given the image that raw food can conjure up to some, Zena has struggled to find someone to commit.

Zena continued, “I applied to heaps and heaps of warehouses and owners for rent and constantly backed down. Owners don’t want dogs on their premises.

“Most don’t seem to understand my trade. They think I kill animals or something, rather than ‘Iceland for dogs’.

“I feel so upset because I’ve worked so hard to build this brand and this family and we’ve helped so many people that I just don’t want to have to shut down because I can’t find a place to go.

“I feel disheartened and very upset that I was forced into this and nowhere seems to understand that even though dogs will come onto the property, I keep a store tidy and clean.”

Zena is looking for a 5,000 square foot lot that only requires parking. She has a budget of around £ 40,000 and hopes to find a willing host soon.

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