MEETING THE CHALLENGE
Cat food manufacturers assert that they are stepping
up to ensure food safety, nutritional efficacy and the
integrity of ingredient suppliers for consumers.
“Let’s start with the benefits of sourcing locally,”
said Melinda Miller, CEO of Bravo Pet Foods in
Manchester, Conn. “Doing so provides an oversight
advantage in that it is easier to get face time with
suppliers and to check out their operation and
When raw ingredient suppliers are USA based, it
is easier to find entities whose standards align with
Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) standards. This
proximity also allows manufacturers to keep a better
handle on the quality of raw ingredients received,
and it allows them to purchase from suppliers whose
products have been U.S. Department of Agriculture
(USDA) inspected and approved, Miller said.;;
“One of the greatest challenges in sourcing
domestic raw ingredients are the fluctuations in
market pricing and the availability of those ingredients
due to overall market demand,” she added. “Salmon
and poultry are good examples, as these ingredients
are in very high demand on the human side.”
Thus, pricing for both has been rising, Miller said.;;
Another challenge manufacturers face in sourcing
all ingredients locally is that some of the best-quality
ingredients—for example, spices and/or vitamins and
minerals—can only be found outside of the USA in
countries rich in those particular resources, according
“Any manufacturer can make a product that is
CONSUMER EDUCATION & MERCHANDISING
completely USA sourced,” Miller said. “In doing so,
the decision then becomes, do you source it all in the
USA and run the risk of sacrificing some quality? Or do
you choose best-in-class ingredients from reputable
Overall, manufacturers agreed that transparency
regarding the provenance of all ingredients, and why
some might be sourced from particular countries, is
“Certain ingredients are certainly in short supply
within the borders of the United States,” said Adrian
Pettyan, CEO and co-founder of Caru Pet Food Co.
in Vero Beach, Fla. “But we believe it’s important to
sacrifice profit margins sometimes to produce a no-
compromise product line with quality pet parents can
GUIDING THE PRODUCT SELECTION PROCESS
Retailers can turn more cat owners on to consumables that are sourced and made in the USA by
pointing out why these products are a good fit for their pets, according to industry insiders.
Education;is the;most cost-effective return on investment a retailer can make, said Melinda
Miller, CEO of Bravo Pet Foods in Manchester, Conn.
“We work closely with our retailers to provide education, and impart the benefits of ingredient
sourcing and product quality,” Miller said. “Our retailers, in turn, help to;educate pet owners.”;;
Pattie Boden, owner of Animal Connection in Charlottesville, Va., noted that a well-educated
sales staff makes for outstanding marketing.
“Although shelf talkers and brochures are helpful, our staff is our best sales tool,” Boden said.
“We find that our customers prefer to speak with a person and spend a lot of time interacting and
Helping consumers to choose products that fit their preferences and explaining the benefits is
key, Miller said.
“It has been our experience that successful retailers have an educated staff that is able to
point out three or four products to match the customer’s need and to explain what makes each
brand different,” Miller added.;“Retailers able to do this effectively are not only going to get the
sale, but they’re going to earn customer satisfaction and loyalty.”;
Boden added that retailers that conduct product research and select the best choices
available in the market will bolster consumer trust.
In terms of merchandising, retailers have plenty of flexibility, manufacturers and retailers
Holding a special promotion will focus attention on select brands, said Adrian Pettyan, CEO
and co-founder of Caru Pet Food Co. in Vero Beach, Fla.
Resourceful retailers might also consider grouping products together in a “sourced and made
in USA” section within the cat food aisle, Pettyan added.
This type of display makes it easier for customers searching for USA-made products, noted
Miller, and it can also generate interest from shoppers who might not have considered these
“From the retailer perspective, it helps with consumer education as like products are all
within reach, making it easier to compare across brands,” Miller said.;
Glenn A. Novotny, president and CEO of Emerald Pet Products in Walnut Creek, Calif.,
recommends a different approach.
“Create a merchandising display themed around healthier options in the food and treat
category,” he said. “At Emerald Pet, we feel drawing attention to USA is not enough to warrant
a change for a consumer to feed premium foods and treats.;Relaying the importance of proper
nutrition and healthy ingredients, backed up by USA manufacturing, is the key to converting
customers to a healthier diet. It starts with nutrition and is reinforced with the made in USA
Emerald Pet Products’ new Wholly Fish! cat treats are
available in limited-ingredient Salmon or Tuna flavors,
and available with ginger root plus turmeric in
Digestive Health formulas.
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