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Can dogs eat graham crackers? (Image: Atsuko Nakamura)
A Japanese company is hoping that its next big selling point for its crackers – that they can be eaten by your dog – will help them take over the world’s breakfast market.
Hodaka Foods plans to test an experimental dog food that combines biscuits and crackers for the first time at the end of March. The company, which makes biscuits, crackers, cookies and snack cakes, said the dog version was designed to improve the dogs’ skin and coat, with added vitamins.
The cracker is intended to be used like a “dog’s biscuit”, which is eaten after the main meal to help reduce the risk of obesity.
Japanese snack cake
The product’s manufacturer, Shizuoka-based Hodaka Foods, said that it had spent two years developing a dog biscuit that was not too large for its mouth and that was chewable. “People have been using biscuits for dogs for a long time, but we thought we could create something more special.”
Although they have been used to help manage diabetes in dogs, biscuits and crackers are typically associated with cats.
The biscuits contain a mix of vitamins and minerals, and the company said that their chewiness could make it easier for dogs to munch. It added that the biscuits were also good for “aging dogs” and that they could help prevent the onset of diabetes.
Hodaka Foods has been developing the product with the help of veterinarians and dog experts to make sure it is safe for dogs. The biscuit is based on wheat and oat flour, but the company added a bit of honey to make it more palatable for dogs’ taste buds.
The biscuits are also smaller than the average biscuit. They contain 11 per cent of carbohydrates and 9.5 per cent of protein, compared to the traditional 11 per cent of carbohydrates and 18 per cent of protein.
The biscuits can be fed daily or weekly. “I don’t think there’s a problem with the biscuits if they are used like this,” said Takashi Koyanagi, director of marketing at Hodaka Foods. “Our biscuit is healthy for dogs and we think we can expand its use in different areas.”
Koyanagi said the biscuits are designed to be mixed with a bowl of hot water or cold water. “If you do this, the biscuits may get softer, but we don’t think there is any problem with that,” he said.
Hodaka Foods’ biscuits have been available in Japan since 2006. Its biscuit for humans, named Kashi No Saimin, is known for its unique flavour. “We make a biscuit with real kashi (Japanese buckwheat) flour and add a special yeast that makes a really tasty biscuit,” Koyanagi said.
The company has also introduced several “healthy biscuit” versions in recent years. The first was launched in 2007, and the company claims to have sold more than 100 million of them. In the latest versions, the biscuits contain less fat and more protein than the traditional version.
Hodaka Foods is now looking to take the product global. “We want to expand to markets outside of Japan and try to promote our biscuits as an everyday food for dogs,” Koyanagi said.
The company also hopes to develop new biscuit recipes that can be used to make ice cream and snacks. “We want to expand our use of biscuits in other products,” Koyanagi said.
“There’s a lot of room for us to expand, and we’re planning to launch a new biscuit product for our clients in Europe and the US.”
Hodaka Foods’ biscuits and crackers are made using Japanese flours. The company says the biscuits are a “Japanese-style biscuit”. Kashi (Japanese buckwheat flour) is used for its crunchiness and texture, while oat flour is used for its soft and chewy quality.
It was founded in 1976 as a small cracker manufacturer. It now produces over 50,000 tonnes of crackers and biscuits a year. It is also a distributor of over 300 biscuit brands in Japan.
This article was first published on BusinessDay.
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