Tell us about a couple of key people at your company who your pet
specialty retail partners should know about.
Durham: As Ziwi USA’s president and executive director, Mary Helen Horn’s energy
and passion sets the tone for the entire North American organization. Her motivation
stems from her desire to help pet parents understand the link between nutrition and
pet health—something she discovered only after going through the heartbreaking loss
of her own dog to cancer several years ago:
“After losing Bailey, I discovered that many ailments could be treated—or possibly
prevented—through feeding an improved diet and better-quality ingredients," she
said. "I don’t want anyone to see their pet suffer or die prematurely from diet-related
illness, so I’ve dedicated my career to educating pet parents on preventative nutrition.
“As a leader, I believe that teamwork is essential for success. So, in my three years at
Ziwi, I’ve focused on building a passionate team of like-minded people. We all believe
in the positive impact Ziwi makes in the lives of pets and the people who love them.”
Mary Helen is also committed to supporting the pet specialty channel by investing in marketing initiatives to increase brand awareness, and by implementing and
enforcing MAP and iMAP compliance.
“Ziwi retailers are the ones who are out there educating consumers on pet nutri-
tion; they’re who pet parents look to and trust, so it is imperative that we do every-
thing we can to equip them for success.”
As Ziwi’s vice president of sales, Heather Hickey provides a tremendous amount
of support and guidance to the sales team, especially in the area of nutrition. Her
enthusiasm and positivity are contagious, and the result is a harmonized, passionate
She strongly believes that a healthful diet is the foundation for physical health,
From an;environmental;standpoint, what is the sig-
facilitating growth and strength, as well as the ability to counteract negative environ-
mental factors. In her words:
“Prevention of disease is so much easier than treatment. But when pets do become
sick, they need to be able to heal from the inside out. A healthy gut and immune sys-
tem will enable their body to begin healing. The most important part of our job is to
educate retailers and consumers about the ways a healthy, species-appropriate diet
can enhance the lives of their pets.”
nificance of producing and sourcing your products
in New Zealand?
Durham: New Zealand’s rich heritage is based on a profound
respect for nature. The indigenous people, the Māori, see themselves as custodians of the land, and believe they have a responsibility to protect it, so they can pass it on to future generations.
Ziwi is family owned by Kiwis (New Zealanders), who mirror
this philosophy by choosing to source ingredients with a focus
on respect for the animals and preservation of the environment.
Ziwi has long-standing relationships throughout the New
Zealand farming industry. This allows us to source from local
farmers we know and trust, and who raise their livestock to our
strict standards, without added antibiotics, hormones or growth
promotants. The traceability of our meat ingredients allows us to
vouch for the quality from farm to bowl.
Giant corporate feedlots—as seen in so many countries—are
known to have negative environmental impacts, such as noise,
odor, waste disposal and water contamination. New Zealand
livestock producers are typically family-owned private farms
passed down from generation to generation. Plus, the temperate
climate supports the practice of year-round, free-range livestock
Instead of commercial fisheries with man-made tanks and
pools, Ziwi’s fish and mussels are raised directly in ocean environments that allow for minimal impact to nature. The green-lipped mussels are grown on buoyed ropes, directly in the open
ocean. This not only allows the animals to live and grow as they
naturally would, but also results in a healthier and higher-qual-ity ingredient.
Ziwi is a somewhat young company. How has the market responded to Ziwi over the years?
Are retailers—or more important, customers—in the U.S. embracing the opportunity to stock
imported product made in New Zealand?
Durham: We are seeing strong, sustained growth throughout all of our markets. Consumers and retailers both
recognize the quality and reliability of New Zealand sourcing. As the innovators of air-dried nutrition, Ziwi Peak
is known for our integrity, as well as for the premium quality of our products. We value and respect the confidence
pet owners have in us, and we work hard to consistently meet or exceed their expectations. As a result, we are
seeing a huge increase in consumer demand, and retailers are rapidly expanding the Ziwi Peak line in their stores.
We moved our North American headquarters to Overland Park, Kan., in early 2016, and have already had to
double our office space to accommodate the needs of our growing team. We are steadily adding to the sales team,
as well as investing in print, digital and social media marketing to drive brand awareness. As a result, pet parents
are walking into stores every day, asking for Ziwi.
Ziwi is the only air-dried brand with its own private air-drying kitchens. Keeping production in-house allows
us to ensure the integrity and quality of each batch we make.
The original facility is located in Mount Maunganui, on New Zealand’s North Island, which is operating at its
maximum capacity. To allow for continued growth, we recently opened a second facility on the South Island near
Christchurch. Although the Christchurch kitchen dramatically increased our production capacity, we’ve already
begun the second phase of expansion to keep up with increased demand.
Scaling up hasn’t changed our basic
process. Ziwi Peak Air-Dried is still handcrafted daily in small batches—it’s how
we maintain the quality we’re known for.
The additions and expansions have just
given us the room to increase the number
of batches we produce each day.
Because we are continually investing
in new innovations, with a lot of exciting
things in the pipeline, we don’t expect
the momentum to slow in the foreseeable future.
Heather Hickey Mary Helen Horn
A distinguishing factor has to be Ziwi’s product sourcing and manufactur-
ing practices. From a;quality;standpoint, what should it mean to retailers
that your products are sourced and manufactured in New Zealand?
Durham: Ziwi’s New Zealand sourcing is a foundational pillar of our brand’s identity.
We source our meat and seafood from New Zealand’s beautiful farms and clean oceans
for many reasons, which include:
• Exceptional quality: New Zealand is recognized worldwide for the exceptional
quality of our meats, dairy, seafood and produce.
• Traceability: By sourcing from New Zealand, we can choose from farmers we
know and trust—they are our friends and neighbors. They share our passion for
the land, and they share our commitment to sustainability. Like us, they believe
that the environment must be preserved and protected, and animals should be
raised and managed ethically and humanely.
• Free-range farms: Because of our temperate climate, animals are free to graze outdoors all year long, as nature intended. Because of this, we can choose to use only
grass-fed and finished meat and poultry that are raised naturally, without the use
of added hormones or growth promotants.
• Safety: New Zealand is a remote, island nation that practices strict biosecurity measures. Because of this, our farms are free from common pests and diseases, such as:
mad cow, West Nile virus, foot and mouth, rabies, scrapie, chronic wasting, etc.
• Strict oversight: Retailers can also take confidence in knowing that the New Zealand government’s Ministry of Primary Industries provides strict oversight and
management of New Zealand’s farming, fishing, food production, animal welfare
and biosecurity—meeting and/or exceeding FDA guidelines.