Putting Quality First
Rashell Cooper, marketing director for Redbarn Pet Products, discusses how the company ensures that pet owners can provide their four-legged loved ones with safe, wholesome nutrition.
Pet Business: Tell us about Redbarn’s approach to providing healthy, wholesome pet nutrition. What makes the company’s products stand out in the marketplace?
Rashell Cooper: When Redbarn started, the pet food industry was a very different place. Pet owners weren’t researching the ingredient panels of their pets’ food and natural products were few and far between. Jeff Baikie and Howard Bloxam were committed to developing natural and limited-ingredient products. They began to manufacture grass-fed bully sticks to complement their rolled food. At Redbarn, natural is not a trend, it’s a philosophy baked into the company’s founding. We innovate with natural at the forefront, not as an afterthought.
PB: What types of quality assurance and safety standards does Redbarn use to ensure that retailers can confidently stand behind the company’s food and treats?
Cooper: Redbarn does a lot to make safe products for customers. We dedicate company resources to developing a quality-assurance program that we believe exceeds industry standards. Quality-assurance programs have three essential functions: to ensure safety, legality and quality standards.
First, we make sure that the products are being safely made. This is the most robust function and encompasses most of the testing that we do at Redbarn. We have an in-house lab where we do microbiological testing; we test for common pathogens, check water activity and pH levels. For legal standards, one example of what we do is that we check the weights of product to the weights listed on the packaging. Finally, for quality standards, our techs are on the production floor checking for visual quality. We are on the production floor, walking at all times to answer questions about quality and checking that everything is being done correctly.
At Redbarn, it’s about more than just holding ourselves accountable. Part of being the best means that we look outside our organization to verify our quality standards, so we actively seek third party accreditation. Currently, we’re pursuing Safe Quality Food (SQF) accreditation.
PB: How does Redbarn effectively respond to the evolving demands of increasingly educated consumers? What are some of the trends the company is currently focusing on?
Cooper: As Redbarn innovates and develops new products, we actively try to make products that don’t just speak to consumer desires and trends, but also help support the health of their dog. We pay close attention to what our customers are asking for in their pet products. We see these desires manifesting in trends like natural products, clean labels, whole-food ingredients and diets that speak to the activity levels of individual pets. We think adding functional superfood ingredients speaks to pet owners’ desire for clean labels with easily understood ingredients.
PB: Last year, Redbarn Pet Products won an Industry Recognition Award from Pet Business for its Redbarn Naturals line of canned dog and cat foods. How has the line been received by the rest of the industry? Have there been any new developments with the line?
Cooper: The Redbarn Wildwood Stews line was created to cater to our customers who indicated that they were searching for unique proteins that meet the needs of dogs with sensitive stomachs and allergies. Redbarn Wildwoods Canned Food features novel proteins like Trout, Duck, and Quail in delectable gravy that dogs love. Like all recipes in the Redbarn Canned line, premium protein is the first ingredient. Additionally, Wildwood Stews are free from common canine allergens like soy and corn. Every recipe in Redbarn’s Canned Food line is grain-free and features natural ingredients and added superfood functional ingredients to support common dog health needs. Recipes include support for weight control, healthy teeth and bones, and joint health. Each can has 16 ingredients or less, plus added vitamins and minerals. They’re also made in the USA, so you can trust the safety and quality in every can.
PB: What are some of the other latest and greatest new products from Redbarn? What are the key features of these products?
Cooper: New Bully Weaves and Super Braids feature seven and four sticks, respectively, woven and twisted into a small and large option for different-sized dogs. Each novel shape contains multiple bully sticks twisted together to create a fun and compelling shape that dogs will puzzle over during chew time. Bully Sticks are a single-ingredient beef chew that is naturally rich in protein and highly digestible. Bully Shapes are appropriate for all breeds and life stages. These innovative dog chews will also help reduce dogs’ levels of stress and boredom. Free from common canine allergens like soy, grains and wheat, Redbarn Bully Weaves and Super Braids help support dental health.
PB: What types of sales and marketing support does Redbarn provide for pet specialty retailers?
Cooper: Redbarn is lucky to have great relationships with our retail and distributor partners in the pet industry. It is so important for us to help our partners with effective display and merchandising of our products. Natural products require more consumer education at point of purchase, and so Redbarn loves to support our retail partners with POP displays and materials to support in-store awareness of products, like our canned pet food featuring novel proteins like Salmon and Oceanfish.
PB: What does the future hold for Redbarn Pet Products?
Cooper: In 2017, we’ve launched new Bully Weaves and Super Braids, Fetchers Braided Ring, Grain-Free Dipped Biscuits and the Wildwoods. 2018 will be a big year for Redbarn. We’re excited to continue innovating and creating better and better products for our customers. PB