Small Pets Are Big Business
Pet Business recently sat down with Tom Pletcher, director of marketing at Absorption Corp., to talk about the popularity of small pets and eco-friendly bedding products.
Pet Business: What is new in the small animal category?
Tom Pletcher: As the economy has grown worse, small pets have continued to grow in population in the U.S. Consumers recognize that the cost of entry and the cost of maintenance for small pets are significantly lower than for a dog or cat. Pet owners can build a relationship with small pets just as they do with larger pets, but can do it much more economically. In today’s busier-than-ever culture, small pets also require less of a time commitment. The category is alive and growing. It’s a good time to be in the small pet business.
PB: What are the advantages to using litter and bedding made from cellulose fiber?
Pletcher: Cellulose fiber naturally wicks away and holds moisture. The mess and odor caused by moisture from pet urine and leaky water bottles adds up to pet owner dissatisfaction. CareFRESH virgin cellulose fiber absorbs more than three times its weight in moisture, thereby reducing odor and making pets more comfortable.
Through our unique process we also soften the fibers, making it the only true pet bedding on the market (as opposed to litter, which is solely a cage substrate). Because of its soft, lofting properties, CareFRESH bedding actually provides habitat enrichment for pets.
CareFRESH is also made from only virgin cellulose fiber. It is not a recycled product, therefore it is free from unhealthy clays, chemicals and other contaminants that are frequently found in recycled paper materials.
PB: Is it important for retailers to carry environmentally friendly options in the small-pet bedding category?
Pletcher: Consumers are more and more conscious about doing their part to reduce their own environmental impact. Companies that are careful to minimize their environmental impact are seen as more responsible. The great thing about Absorption Corp is that we invest to reduce our environmental impact. For example, we have replaced more than 60 percent of our fossil fuel requirements in our manufacturing process with renewable energy sources.
Our newest facility in Ferndale, Wash. is a “closed water system.” Our manufacturing process requires significant water usage, so we reuse it instead of discharging wastewater into the environment.
We also use recycled pallets and slip sheets, and we have located our plants close to raw material sources to drastically reduce freight miles. Finally, our products are made from raw materials that otherwise would be destined for landfills. Instead, we reclaim these materials and reuse them to create the best pet bedding on the market.
PB: How should retailers educate their employees about small pet bedding products?
Pletcher: For cage substrates, including our bedding products, we offer printed training guides that walk store associates through the key differences and benefits between the alternative substrates. Also, our new website (www.carefresh.net) will include a “Retailer Partner” section that talks about the features and benefits of our products. Consumer pages in the site discuss pet care and pet selection. These are great learning tools.
Another very important training component we provide is instruction on how to take care of in-store pets, including topics like cage cleaning and sterilization, proper feeding and proper handling.