Guru styles itself as ‘the wise choice for healthy dogs’. And there’s good reason for that. Health is at the heart of what Guru offers. Essentially, it puts dogs first.

The inspiration for the product came from husband and wife team Andrew and Lisa Clarke’s love of dogs. But more specifically their desire for good health and longevity for their dogs.

Andrew said: “Lisa’s family had a Boxer that lived to the age of 17 and a half. Considering the average lifespan is 10-12 years for that particular breed, that’s a considerable mark-up. Lisa and her family were all convinced this was down to home feeding. Rather than buying branded dog food, all of their dog’s meals were cooked from scratch using fresh ingredients bought from the local market such as fish and chicken.”

He continued: “Dogs are family members and you want them to live as healthy and long a life as possible – just as you’d want for any family member. So for all of our subsequent dogs, we took the same approach; home cooked food was best.”

But whilst the intent was there, working life soon interfered with looking after pampered pooches and one day whilst they were sat in traffic on the M6 giving detailed instructions to Lisa’s mother on what to cook for their dog’s dinner that evening, the couple realised there was a niche in the market for them to provide nutritious food for owners who simply didn’t have the time to spend preparing daily meals of that calibre.

Andrew said: “We started to explore the possibilities, looking into what options were out there. Initially it seemed there were only two options on the market: the standard dry/tinned processed food or a raw diet. But we continued to investigate to see if there were any other healthier alternatives, and this saw us stumble across the concept of cold-pressed dog food.”

Currently, the most common form of dog food on the market is dry kibble. This is produced through extrusion, which involves the use of very high temperatures. Due to these high temperatures, the quality of the food is often degraded. However, with cold pressed the food is mixed at a very low temperature (44 degrees), which means the ingredients retain much more of their flavour, aroma and nutritional content.

“When it comes to dry kibble,’ Andrew explained, ‘In order to provide palatability, it’s common for manufacturers to spray the food with fats and oils to compensate for the loss of nutrients during the extrusion process. Cold pressed dog food on the other hand retains much more nutrients thanks to the low temperatures involved. Easy evidence of this is that extruded dry food will float then swell when dropped into a glass of water, whereas cold pressed will sink due to its density.”

He added: “If we put that into the context of a human diet, that’s the equivalent of eating fried food and only fried food every single day. With that in mind, it’s no wonder that dogs’ health and lifespans are affected!”

The nutritional value of Guru sets it apart from its peers. But when it comes to cost, despite its premium quality, its price compares very favourably.

Andrew said: “Numerous people have informed me that we could charge much more for a product of Guru’s nature, but that doesn’t reflect the ethos of why we wanted to do this. We want Guru to be accessible to those people who put the welfare of their pets first. We’re not about trying to make as many pennies as we can – we want healthy pets eating healthy food.”

One of the major cost benefits of Guru, is that the density of cold pressed food sees it last 33% longer than a dry kibble alternative. So, for example, a dog that eats 500 grams of dry kibble a day would only need 300-320 grams of Guru. Andrew commented: “Whilst the initial outlay might be slightly higher, you won’t need to buy it as often, which makes it more cost effective.”

The packaging for Guru is an essential part of its brand identity. Andrew said: “Lisa’s background is in design. She designed both the company branding and the website, so when it came to packaging our needs were very particular. She had a vision in her mind’s eye and nothing else would do.”

To deliver this concept Andrew and Lisa turned to Tyler Packaging, one of the UK’s leading independent suppliers of flexible packaging. Andrew says they approached Tyler on a recommendation having encountered headaches when trying to arrange prototype packaging.

“Our first meeting with Adam (Tyler’s sales and technical director) was actually at a service station", Andrew explained. “But despite the informal setting it became apparent that, when it comes to packaging, Adam really knew his stuff. He effectively stepped into the packaging breach and sorted out our woes.”

Andrew continued: “Due to the uniqueness of our food, we don’t recommend storage using an air tight container. Initially we had SOS bags in mind, but Adam persuaded us to take up a resealable option instead. This would not only showcase the great design but solve a practical problem by turning the bag into its own breathable storage unit. As part of this, he even came out to our factory to make sure he understood exactly what our requirements were so that the packaging would cater for our specific needs. He really went the distance to ensure we got what we were after.”

Andrew added: “One element that Lisa wanted was a paper appearance, and as part of that she wanted a brown interior so as to avoid a shiny white one, something that was quite unusual. She felt this would give it a more authentic and attractive look. Adam sorted it, ordered new plates and made it happen.”

Currently Guru is available in two weights of 14KG and 5KG and is packaged in pouches with Aplix closure systems that allows for easy reseal. Although it’s early days still, Guru has met with very favourable feedback from consumers and has scored 4.9 out of 5 stars from All About Dog Food, an independent dog food review site popular with dog owners.

Andrew concluded: “In our eyes, Guru is the Rolls Royce of the dog food world. The next step for us is ensuring dog owners are aware of that fact!”

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