The world of cat food is changing—and it’s changing rapidly. Few are more aware of this than Nate Phillips, CEO and co-founder of Nom Nom.
Phillips and his business partners at Nom Nom intend to change the $30 billion pet food industry through real food and an authentic shopping experience for both pets and their people. The company formulates and cooks fresh, human-grade food and ships it directly to customers’ doorsteps.
In the following interview, We’re All About Cats sit down with Nate Phillips to discuss fresh homemade-style cat food delivery, the pet food industry, and the role of Nom Nom in the future of cat food.
Interview with Nate Phillips, CEO and Co-Founder of Nom Nom
What Inspired The Creation Of Nom Nom?
In 2013 my brother Zach and I adopted a couple of mini Australian Shepherd puppies, and were surprised to find that the pet food on shelves at that time had hardly changed since we were kids, or even since the 1960s. We were troubled by the unpronounceable ingredients listed on the packaging of the dog food products available.
Things became more urgent when Zach’s dog Harlee became ill with a compromised immune system. A vet recommended that Zach and his wife, Alex (also one of our co-founders) try feeding Harlee a homemade fresh diet. Her symptoms cleared up immediately and we were blown away.
That’s when we realized that there was a giant gap in the pet food market for people that wanted to feed fresh, but didn’t have the time to cook for their pets. We found Dr. Justin Shmalberg, a board-certified veterinary nutritionist, and he provided what would later become our Heartland Beef Mash recipe.
What Makes It Different From Other Pet Food Companies?
We have a number of key differentiators.
- We custom portion our food into single-meal pouches based on each pet’s age, weight, breed, activity level, and health needs. This removes the risk of over or underfeeding – a very important issue with so many obese pets in the U.S.
- All our recipes are formulated by Dr. Justin Shmalberg, a clinical professor of veterinary medicine at a leading university, a practicing veterinarian, and one of less that 100 board-certified veterinary nutritionists in the country.
- We own and operate our kitchen 100 percent, and don’t outsource any element of the production process. We oversee every single detail from purchasing the ingredients based on what has been ordered that week, to prepping the food, to gently cooking the ingredients, custom-portioning, to packing the boxes. We do every step of the process except for the actual shipping.
- We serve both dogs and cats.
- Our food is made to order. We only make what has been ordered each week, so our kitchen produces zero food waste.
- Our food is never frozen, and arrives fresh, ready to serve, at our customers’ doorsteps only days after it’s been made, each week.
- Our account managers are truly partners in the health and wellness journeys of each customer, and they are constantly making adjustments and customizations to help our customers and their pets in any way that we can.
How Is It Different From Home-cooked Or Raw Food?
We always applaud pet parents that make home-cooked meals for their pets, but we also think it’s important for pet parents to be aware that home cooking your dog’s food comes with some drawbacks.
First, it’s extremely time consuming.
Second, it can be quite expensive – and while we can’t speak for other fresh pet food companies, home-cooking is typically much more expensive than using Nom Nom.
Third, it can be difficult to achieve consistently precise portions when serving and portioning the food yourself, and this can lead to over or under feeding.
Most importantly though, without the help of a veterinary nutritionist, home cooking creates a risk of not meeting all the nutritional needs of a pet. Since Nom Nom was formulated by Dr. Shmalberg, it includes carefully selected ingredients, chosen for their powerful nutrients, as well as our NomNomNutrient mix to ensure balanced nutrition that helps pets thrive.
What Do You Like The Most About Nom Nom?
I love that our food has the ability to truly transform the lives of the pets that eat it, and their owners. We get calls and emails all the time from customers telling us that their elderly pet is excited about eating again for the first time in years.
We also have had customers tell us that their pet’s unbearably itchy skin has completely cleared up since eating our food. Most regularly we hear anecdotal evidence of pets with brighter eyes, shinier coats, and more energy, as a result of eating Nom Nom.
What Have You Learned About Pet Food Since Starting The Company?
I’ve learned so much about how food is sourced, prepared, and created at a large scale. We saw many things in the early research stages that shaped Nom Nom into what it is today. For example, we knew we needed to completely own and operate our own kitchen so that we could ensure that the entire process of food prep, cooking, and packing, would meet our rigorous standards for quality. We saw some other companies falling short in this regard.
Do You Think Nom Nom Will Ever Offer Customizable Recipes?
It’s definitely something we’ve talked about. Our long term goal is to be a top to bottom pet health products and services company, with an emphasis on customization and nutrition.
Who Do You Think Should Try Nom Nom?
I’d recommend Nom Nom to anyone with a picky pet, or a pet that has had bad reactions to more traditional diets like canned food or kibble. That said, Nom Nom is truly for anyone that wants to feed their pet the healthiest, highest quality food available, made especially for that specific pet.
Are You More Optimistic Or Pessimistic About The Pet Food Industry?
I’m extremely optimistic about the future of the pet food industry. Looking back at how long it’s taken for change to occur in the industry is a bit disappointing, but it’s clear now that, as a result of humanization of pets, people are much more conscious about what they feed their dogs and cats.
They want to make a significant and positive change, and that demand is driving positive change in the industry as well. In addition, pet food companies are being held to a higher standard of transparency and accountability these days, which means that they will have to improve their practices, or risk becoming irrelevant.
Those are some of the things that make me very optimistic about our industry. Most importantly though, the major strides happening in nutritional science have the potential to help pets live longer, happier lives! And ultimately, that’s all any of us want.
How Do You See Cat Ownership Changing In The Next 10 Years?
I think “ownership” is going to continue to move into the direction of “parenting,” as humanization of pets becomes more and more normalized. This will result in a higher standard of care and involvement on all levels, from what cat owners feed their pets, to the toys they give them, to their enrichment activities, and more.
What Can Cat Guardians Look Forward To From Nom Nom In The Future?
We’ll soon be coming out with a range of products that will help you monitor and improve your pet’s health, using cutting-edge science and personalized measurement.
In Nate Phillips’ words,
“pet food companies are being held to a higher standard of transparency and accountability these days”.
Never forget that your cat’s food is made and sold by humans. As conscientious cat guardians, we should try to be familiar with the individuals who formulate, manufacture, and market our cats’ food.
Interviews like this are one way for pet food companies to communicate with the people who buy their products. They give us a platform for dialogue with the human minds behind our cats’ food, and we’re tremendously grateful for that.
We’d like to extend a huge thank you to Nate and the rest of the Nom Nom team for making this possible.
If you’re interested in learning more about Nom Nom cat food, and to order, click here to visit the Nom Nom site.
Remember that you’re covered by Nom Nom’s care-grade guarantee. If you don’t see a difference after 30 days, Nom Nom will buy your next order ($40 limit).