Supreme Small Pet Nutrition
Claire Hamblion, vice president of marketing for Supreme Petfoods, discusses the company’s commitment to meeting the dietary needs of all small animal species.
Tell us about Supreme Petfoods. When/where was the company started? What inspired its foundation? What types of products does it offer?
Supreme Petfoods was established in the late 1990s in rural Suffolk in the U.K. At the time, the foods available for small pets were low quality, and many species were simply not catered to. It meant that many suffered the effects of nutritional deficiencies or had limited lifespans.
The idea was to provide foods that not only met the specific nutritional needs of pets, but that were high quality, made with care and had the backing of experts. That expertise was an important part of our reason for existing and also drives what we do today. The more we knew, the more we realised how imperfectly small pets were fed and cared for. It’s something we knew we could change by developing our expertise and sharing it with others.
Starting with mixes made using locally-produced forages and balanced with appropriate supplementation of vitamins and minerals, it wasn’t long before Supreme took a look at what was happening in other pet food sectors and turned its attention to developing a kibble that would contain all the nutrition a small pet needed in every bite, including high levels of fibre for better dental and digestive health. This became the Selective range, which provides all the advantages of mono-component feeding for small pets.
An artisan bakery production line, complete with glass-fronted ovens, was modified to allow the company to produce high-quality handmade treats for small pets. More recently, wild and foraged ingredients from hedgerows have been added to the ingredient panel for the company’s innovative product designers to call on for recipe development.
It’s no surprise, given all this activity, that when driving through the beautiful countryside and up a twisting drive to the Supreme headquarters, the fresh, natural aromas of herbs and grasses are the first things visitors notice.
What is Supreme Petfoods’ approach to manufacturing high-quality products for small pets? What sets the company apart from other manufacturers in the small pet category?
Our ‘all small species’ approach really sets us apart. We also work very closely with veterinarians around the world, and our in-house experts really know their stuff. As our focus is on small pets only, it makes all the difference. We understand our audience and how they feel about their pets.
Our big watchwords are “Responsibility” and “Innovation.” We don’t compromise on nutrition by adding in cheap fillers such as molasses or fruit syrups, because our pets really are not designed to handle those simple sugars. Like us, they can get fixated on sweet tastes; but also like us, they suffer from the consequences with weight gain and bad teeth. Worse still, their digestive systems can’t cope with sugars, and this means issues like gastric stasis can occur when herbivores are fed sugary foods. So, we’re all about bringing new products to market that differentiate retailers, but we literally stake our reputation on being responsible and producing high-quality, nutritious food that keeps pets happy and healthy.
When did Supreme Petfoods enter the U.S. market? What drew the company to this market? How has the transition gone so far?
Supreme entered the U.S. market in 2012. For a long time we looked at the U.S. market and were surprised at the lack of innovation in this particular sector. In the U.K.—and indeed, across Europe—we noticed peoples’ relationships with small pets were growing stronger. Pocket pets were becoming an equal alternative to a cat or a dog and were more suited to the lifestyle of modern consumers. We knew that those owners were more demanding and highly educated about the needs of their pets. So, knowing we had something to offer that met a growing demand was very motivating.
Our experience of the independent retail sector and across the larger specialist stores and chains in the U.K. meant we were well versed in understanding that retailers needed our support, as well as our products. All our products benefit from marketing support, and everything—including packaging, social media, signage and planograms—is developed from one starting point: how can we support our stockists to communicate the benefits of our products?
We think that retailers have benefited from this focus and appreciate our efforts to ensure they feel supported. As awareness increases, retailers have also started to experience the benefits of stocking our foods, in terms of customer satisfaction and repeat purchase. All of this is achieved without compromising on values—a recommendation for Supreme is a recommendation for top quality nutrition that will benefit the pet.
What are some of Supreme Petfoods most popular products? What are the key features of these products?
The Selective range is our strongest performer in the U.S., closely followed by the complementary treats range, Selective Naturals. The high fibre, no added sugar ethos is what differentiates these ranges from many others on the market. Great taste and quality nutrition means the animal feels healthy and the owner can rest assured they are doing the right thing for their pet.
What are the newest innovations from Supreme Petfoods? How do these products improve upon what’s come before?
We’re proud to offer groundbreaking products across the board. Products like Selective Naturals, with its hand-made and healthy ethos; our premium mixes that cater for the needs of pets with distinct food preferences and a drive to forage; and, of course, our mono-components. Selective Grain-Free was developed on the back of strong consumer preferences.
Our innovation extends beyond food to marketing support for our retail customers. We have some fantastic free sample displays, which are new to the market. The packs come with money off next purchase coupons in a freestanding display unit to allow retailers to promote trial and awareness of the Selective brand.
This initiative will help support the stellar growth we’ve experienced as those who try Selective return and make repeat purchases. The brand is recommended by vets and also supported by the House Rabbit Society, so it comes with strong credentials. Later this year, our customers can also look forward to more products being added to the Selective range.
What does the future hold for Supreme Petfoods? Do you have any new products in the pipeline? If so, what can you tell us about these impending introductions?
The exciting Selective Naturals treats range will be benefiting from an extension, with two nibblesome new additions. For rabbits, the traditional carrot will be blended with Timothy hay to produce Country Loops for rabbits. Smaller pocket pets like mice, rats, hamsters and gerbils will enjoy new Harvest Loops, which will be packed full of juicy apple, crunchy peanuts and linseed.
It’s good to see that discretionary spending on treats is holding up really well and growing actively. We attribute this to pet owners getting closer than ever to their pets, which means they really value the experience treating delivers.
There is huge value in novelty—pet owners expect to see their favourite brands and something new when they visit. For us, that means looking very closely at what we bring with any new line. Retailers sometimes have limited space, so every product we introduce has to have great commercial credentials that justify its place on the shelf, as well as being wholesome and nutritious. That will be our guiding principle through 2019 and into the next decade. PB