In a competitive pet food market saturated with anything from premium kibble touting organic, antioxidant-rich, grain-free and gluten-free formulas to elaborate home-cooked fare delivered to your doorstep, trying to sell the idea of good ol’ fresh ingredients can be a challenge.
However, that’s exactly what founders of PetCubes Ryan Ingkiriwang and Kho Guan Guo, both 31, are trying to doing. “Our aim is to deliver fresh and convenient pet food to pet owners at affordable prices,” explains Ingkiriwang who also owns a general trading business.
Lest you imagine two grown men hunched over a kitchen counter chopping meat and vegetables, PetCubes operates out of a 1,500 sq ft central kitchen in Ubi with 11 staff running the show.
Designed to take the guesswork out of preparing a fresh meal for Fido, PetCubes manufacturesvacuum-sealed, frozenpet meals that are nutritionally balanced and contain only human-grade meats, fruits and vegetables. Unlike most homecooked pet food businesses that deliver daily, a one- or two-month supply of PetCubes meals can be purchasedor delivered at once, and stored in the freezer for daily feeding.
The fresh food people
Pet owners who cook for their precious pooches daily will probably have a hard time wrapping their heads around PetCubes’ frozen “fresh food” concept. However, Ryanand Guan Guo make the bold claim that their pet food is “fresher than homecookedfare”.
“Freshness of the food and how long it stays fresh depends on the time taken to freeze it. The faster foods freeze, the less time they are exposed to bacterial contamination,” explains Ryan.“Homecooked foods that are kept in regular freezers to maintain integrity are actually exposed to contamination because of the slow freezing process. It takes about seven to nine hours for food to be frozen to -18 degrees Celcius.”
At PetCubes’ manufacturing facility, raw ingredients like meats and vegetables are gently cooked at 70 degrees Celsius, then quickly placed in HACCP (a food safety management system) certified blast freezers that are able to bringthe temperatures down to -30 degrees Celciuswithinan hour or two. This helps to seal in the nutrients and maintainfreshness. PetCubes also offers raw diets, which are prepared at below -5 degrees Celsius and then stored at -30 degree Celsius for over a week to destroy any parasites.
“Our concept is simple: Fresh produce with no preservatives or additives—the freezer is our only preservative. To maintain the quality of our products, all stages of operationare handled by us, from the sourcing ofraw materials to the foodpreparation, to packaging,and even storage and delivery. There is no third party vendor involved,” says Ryan who oversees the operations at PetCubes. Guan Guo handles the logistics, and both pitch in for marketing.
Categorised to suit the needs of your furkid, PetCubes’ offerings include ‘Essentials’(the most basic diet), ‘Sprint’ (added glucosamine supplements for healthy joints), ‘Complete’ (added supplements to improve general health), ‘Junior’ for puppies, and ‘RAW’ for fans of the BARF diet. To feed Fido, simply thaw and serve, or scald slightly (for cooked options) to warm.
“We have gone through many rounds of experimentation and consultation with certified nutritionists, and also taken some direction from industry experts and their books. The options available have been carefully formulated with organ and meat components together with vegetable components to get the right balance,” shares Ryan.
PetCubes is available online and at selected pet stores. To find out more, visit www.petcubes.com.sg.
Photo credit: Desmond Lim