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Pet food manufacturers focus on ingredients

BY Doug Desjardins

Still feeling the effects of last year’s massive pet food recall, manufacturers are changing the look of their pet food packaging to place more emphasis on the healthful ingredients inside.

Mars Inc. has altered the look of its The GoodLife Recipe line of dog and cat foods to highlight ingredients it said are better for pets. The new packaging features an illustration of the ingredients in the food, along with a clear, easy-to-read list.

“Fellow pet lovers are looking for fresh, quality ingredients for their pets prepared the way they would their own food,” said Margaret Mitchell, brand-marketing director for The GoodLife Recipe. “We use balanced, healthy ingredients to create our wholesome recipe, and we’re excited to share our updated product packaging that reflects this look and feel.”

Mars said its new strategy was motivated by a survey from research firm Impulse that showed more than two-thirds of dog and cat owners check the ingredients of pet foods before they even look at the price. The same survey showed that 60 percent of survey respondents said they prefer foods with natural ingredients for their pets.

Other manufacturers are taking the same approach to cater to health-conscious pet owners by making a list of healthful ingredients a prominent part of their packaging.

Purina One Natural Blends cat food features a list of key ingredients in large letters on the front of the package just under the label, highlighting such products as salmon, soy oil, brown rice and anti-oxidants. Purina also has a line of dog food called Naturally Complete that targets the same consumer and prominently displays the ingredients.

That attention to detail has become more important now that some manufacturers are considering a change in recipes to avoid products that have become too expensive. Pet food manufacturers are being hit hard as they try to strike a balance between keeping prices low and passing some of the added manufacturing costs on to consumers.

DelMonte Foods, which makes such pet foods as Meow Mix and Kibbles ‘n Bits, reflected that trend earlier this month when it reported a loss of $10.1 million for its fiscal first quarter, citing its pet food division as part of the reason. It said that pet products generated an 11 percent increase in revenue on the strength of price increases but suffered a 65 percent decline in earnings.

Menu Foods, a Canada-based distributor that was the source of the 2007 pet food recall, also is being affected by rising manufacturing costs. It initiated a price increase on wet pet food last month for its U.S, private-label customers that included mass merchant and supermarket retailers. In a release, it said that price increase would “enable Menu to recover, from private-label consumers, much of the cost increase it would otherwise be required to absorb.”

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Winn-Dixie completes 100th store remodel

BY Michael Johnsen

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. Less than 18 months after announcing a major remodel initiative for all of its 521 stores, Winn-Dixie Stores, on Thursday announced the completion of remodel No. 100.

The newest remodeled store, in the Miami suburb of Hialeah, is celebrating its grand opening today.

The Hialeah store showcases the company’s fresh and local strategic initiative—an updated storefront, combined with expanded produce and floral departments. The store’s deli and bakery were upgraded with a wood-burning rotisserie and bread warmer, a wing bar, an olive bar and a specialty dessert case. The store also features new energy-efficient refrigerators and frozen food cases as well as new wood flooring and a contemporary color palette.

“This is not only a milestone for our Company, but it also symbolizes the hard work and dedication of our associates and the loyalty of our customers,” stated Peter Lynch, Winn-Dixie’s chairman, chief executive officer and president. “It’s all about being fresh and local—from our decor to our merchandising and marketing initiatives, we are tailoring every detail of our remodeled stores to meet the needs of neighborhoods we serve. As the remodel program moves forward, we will have a significantly stronger store base from which to compete and leverage the strength of our brand. We plan to remodel half the chain by June 2010.”

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Longs to carry GE digital cameras

BY Michael Johnsen

TORRANCE, Calif. Already distributed through Walgreens, General Imaging, the worldwide exclusive licensee for GE digital cameras, may be getting a foot in the door with CVS with Thursday’s announcement that its retail camera line is to be picked up by Longs Drug beginning in October.

Under the agreement, Longs stores will stock three models—the A730 Black, the A835 Black and the A1030 Red.

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