Geoff and Kylie Geoff and Kylie CREDIT: Word of Mouth Media NZ

NZ's fastest growing fresh raw natural dog food company in line for major award after quake re-scheduling

Wednesday 8 September 2010, 11:04AM
By Word of Mouth Media NZ


New Zealand’s fastest growing dog food company is in line for a major business award in Christchurch this month but the September 4 earthquake had put the awards night on hold.

The Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce will advise a new date in the next week after this Thursday night’s awards event was postponed because of the quake damage.

When you look at the background of the K9 Natural Food company’s owner and founder Geoff Bowers it’s not surprising K9 are in the running to win the Champion Canterbury manufacturers’ award. His company is growing at 300 percent year on year with most growth in export sales.

As a police dog handler and dog trainer, Bowers and one of his numerous working dogs in this case his drugs dog recovered the largest haul of ecstasy in the European Union (EU) with over stg12million (pounds) street value. He also had the top arrest rate in the UK with over 300 people a year.

He was a British marine based in Pompeii; saw active service in the Falkland’s war and numerous other theatres. He moved to New Zealand in 1990 but went back to the UK after a call up for the Iraq war before finally settling with his Kiwi partner (now wife Diane).

The former British Home office dog handling instructor and policeman transferred from Auckland to Christchurch in 2003 and set up K9 Natural Foods five years ago. Bowers has eaten both the raw and freeze dried K9 Natural dog food which is the only fresh raw 100 percent complete diet sourced from animals deemed fit for human consumption on the market in most countries worldwide.

To learn what dogs should eat, Bowers spent three months in frozen Alaska up in the Arctic studying feeding habits of the grey wolf. He said DNA showed dogs were 99.8 percent wolf and their digestive system was exactly the same, so it made sense to base their diet on that of the wolf.

``I wanted to look at why and how they were so good at hunting. I knew I could learn so much by observing so I organised the trip to make sure I would get to see what I wanted to see. I spent the time with a guy called Dr Gordon Harber who is the longest serving wolf researcher. He was actually living with the wolves for over 32 years,’’ Bowers said today.

``It taught me just how good they are and K9 Natural’s philosophy and food is based on the research I did. Wolves are the perfect family. They do not kill for the sake of killing unlike some humans I met. They look after one another, unlike some people, they are the perfect team or they would not survive. When they mate they stay together for life again unlike some humans and they won’t harm you again unlike some of us.’’

K9 make beef, lamb, venison and chicken dog food plus endurance food for working dogs which is a combination of lamb and salmon. The meat is sourced locally from animals deemed fit for human consumption

They also add local fresh broccoli, cauliflower, carrot, silver beet (spinach), cabbage and other seasonal vegetables. Fruit includes apples, pears and seasonal fruit. The fruit and vegetable replicate what would be found in the stomach of an animal killed in the wild.

K9 are exporting to 10 countries and last year NZ turnover was 60 percent. This year it is 25 percent of sales. NZ sales are increasing at approximately 80 percent year on year, but export growth is exploding, hence the relative decrease in NZ sales.

The company aims to feed up to one percent of the world's 100 million dogs, for which it would produce 250 tonnes of K9 a day.