BY ELLYCE ROTHROCK
The year 2016 marks another year of double-digit growth at Sojos, thanks to increasing interest in raw nutrition
among pet owners who care as
much about their pets’ health as
they do their own. To help meet
demand, the company completed expansion of its production
facility in Minneapolis and is
preparing to release Sojos Complete for Puppies, the brand’s
first life-stage food, on the heels
of its launch of its first freeze-dried treats for cats.
Mindful of independent retailers’ competitive challenges, the
company is implementing a new
minimum retail price policy with
the help of its new parent company, WellPet.
Pet Product News: You bought Sojos in
1996 when freeze-dried raw nutrition
was in its infancy. It’s now 2016 and the
category has exploded. It must feel pretty
good knowing your beliefs were right on
target all along.
Ward Johnson: Sojos was founded on
the belief that raw nutrition could
make a visible and profound dif-
ference in a pet’s health. But in
’96, we were clearly ahead of the
times. Back then, consumers put
much less emphasis on the con-
tents of their own food, let alone
their pet’s. As a result, there were
only a handful of pet companies
advocating raw nutrition—and
freeze-dried raw food was virtu-
ally unheard of.
Of course, since then there’s
been a fundamental shift in attitude regarding the role of food—
and the importance of a healthful
diet. Today’s consumers are keenly interested in where their food
is sourced, how it’s produced
and how it compares to others in
terms of nutrient content.
That said, concerned pet parents are now hyper-focused on
nutrition as the key to whole
body health and longevity. And
raw food has become an important part of this movement—with
pet parents looking for safe, convenient ways to feed their pets the
freshest ingredients possible.
Our goal has always been to
change the way that people feed
their pets. And after 20 years of
hard work, it’s gratifying to now
see more and more people discovering the benefits of a raw
diet. From healthier skin, coat,
teeth and gums to a stronger immune system to a reduction in allergies—it’s adding up to longer,
healthier lives. And we’re proud
to be part of that.
PPN: This year wrapped up a decade of
double-digit growth at Sojos. Looking back,
when did the turning point for freeze-dried
raw nutrition and Sojos occur?
WJ: We’ve always experienced
year-over-year growth, so it’s
hard to pinpoint exactly when
freeze-dried raw nutrition took
off. No doubt the recall of kibble
and canned products in 2007 was
a turning point. That opened the
eyes of consumers to the impor-
tance of what they were putting
in their dogs’ dishes—and ever
since, we’ve seen consistent dou-
I don’t want to imply that pet
parents haven’t always wanted
the best for their pets, but since
2007 they’ve developed a much
greater awareness of what the
“best” truly looks like. As a re-
sult, they started reading ingre-
dient labels, researching sourcing
and scrutinizing manufacturing
practices. And no surprise, the
interest in freeze-dried products
began growing dramatically.
Today, I think it’s fair to say
the freeze-dried form is recognized as a full-fledged category
and a clear alternative to kibble
and canned foods. And I can’t say
enough about the role of the independent pet channel in making
that happen. Our brick-and-mortar retailers continue to be instrumental in advocating, educating
and spreading the word. And
thanks in large part to their efforts, more and more pet parents
are recognizing that freeze-dried
foods are not only superior to
highly processed food—they’re
also a safe and convenient alterative to frozen raw food.
PPN: Talk about Sojos’ expanded manufacturing facility in Minneapolis. How long
has the expansion been in the works? Was
it backed/subsidized by WellPet? What
has changed about the way the company
produces its products?
WJ: First of all, nothing has fun-
PPN: Sojos has never experienced a recall.
damentally changed about the
way we produce our recipes
themselves. But thanks to the
growing interest in Sojos recipes,
As a result, we’ve been able
to add more jobs to the local
economy and to stay at the fore-
front of innovation in the freeze-
dried and raw category. WellPet
shares our passion to not only
provide safe, high-quality prod-
ucts—but also to create a great
place to work.
What is it about the company’s processes
that help ensure its foods’ safety?
WJ: Our patent-pending
freeze-drying process locks in
the taste and essential nutrients
in raw meat while helping to
eliminate the risk of food-borne
pathogens. We employ a rigorous
quality management system, all
of our raw ingredients are USDA
inspected, and our recipes are
made here in the USA—under or
own roof, of course.
In-house manufacturing, with
a 360-degree view of our processes, gives us virtually complete
control over everything with the
Sojos name on it. That, plus our
commitment to using only real ingredients—with no GMOs, nothing artificial and nothing from
China—are all key components
of our mission to make raw nutrition convenient, affordable and,
above all, safe.
Finally, our partnership with
WellPet ensures that as we grow,
we’ll continue to have the resources to keep manufacturing
in-house and at the forefront of
quality and food safety.
PPN: For independent retailers unfamiliar
with or new to the concept, what is MRP,
how does it benefit them and how do
resources from parent company WellPet
make establishing one possible?
WJ: Manufacturers, like Sojos,
deploy a minimum retail price
(MRP) policy to ensure competitive price points across all channels and all retailers. In effect, the
MRP is a means to level the retail
Sojos Surges Into
Pet Product News offers an exclusive look
at what’s brand-new at Sojos, the trends
that drive the company and its products,
and what the industry can expect from its
co-founder, Ward Johnson, in the future.