Innovating Pet Wellness
Alyssa Guertin, brand manager for Pet-Ag, Inc., discusses the company’s commitment to enhancing the lives of “Every Animal. Every Day.”
Pet Business: Tell us about Pet-Ag. What makes the company unique in the pet products market?
Alyssa Guertin: Pet-Ag was the first company to offer commercial companion animal milk replacers. With our history long entrenched in this space, we have become known for the expert science behind each formula and have carried that over from our foundation of milk replacers into all our other products.
Our corporate tagline “Every Animal. Every Day.” truly sums up the totality of our collective business, passion and dedication to enhancing the lives of all animals and those of the people who love them. More than just milk, we currently offer top brands of high-quality products in the grooming, nutritional supplement, treat, health, behavior and large animal categories.
PB: Pet-Ag is well known in the milk replacer category, where it offers brands such as Esbilac, KMR and Zoologic, to name a few. What is the company’s approach to this product category? What are some of the key features of the products you offer in this category?
Guertin: Pet-Ag is the market leader in the milk category. Our approach is to offer complete nutrition closely matching mother’s milk. Our portfolio offers a variety of products, from economical milk replacers under the brand PetLac to our best-known Esbilac and KMR brands. We also offer a premium milk replacer product, Goats Milk Esbilac.
From key features like pre- and probiotics, to goats’ milk for pets sensitive to lactose, we approach the category holistically and offer a full range of powders and ready-to-feed liquids for retailers and their customers. Pet-Ag is also the authority on milk replacer products for zoos and wildlife rehabilitators, offering a unique line of milk replacer formulas under our Zoologic brand to support exotic species from aardvarks to zebras.
Recently, Pet-Ag took this expertise and expanded into the large-animal milk replacer market, introducing a line of large animal multi-species, goat and deer milk replacers. These products have features like pre- and probiotics, colostrum and the proper fat-to-protein ratio to support and help infant animals thrive.
PB: Pet-Ag is also a market leader in the pet supplements category. What are your top offerings in this category?
Guertin: Pet-Ag has found that pet owners demand high-quality products at a good price while delivering upon whatever benefits the formula promises—efficacious products that actually work. Our formulas are based on science and crafted by our on-staff nutritionist specifically for the needs of each species.
We are expanding on our current set of unique, great tasting and easy to feed gel products at Global Pet Expo 2017. In addition to our original five formulas, we will be completing the portfolio with the addition of formulas to support urinary tract health, hip and joint, skin and coat, and more. Pet-Ag will also offer species-specific Dyne High Calorie Supplement for dogs, livestock, horses and ponies. This liquid product may be administered directly or over the top of food. It provides additional calories to sport, working, show and performance animals.
PB: What makes these products stand out from the competition?
Guertin: Its pretty straightforward—pet acceptance, price and palatability.
Pet acceptance—for supplements to work, they need to be consumed. According to the 2015-2016 APPA National Pet Owners Survey, dogs given supplements may only get an average of 19 doses a month. Pets are notorious for suddenly clamping their jaws, or eating whatever a tablet is wrapped in and spitting it out, or even accepting a supposedly tasty functional treat but then spitting it out only to be eaten by a friend waiting eagerly in the wings. These are the exact reasons why an easy-to-administer form, like our full line of gel nutritional supplement products, works so well. Not only do they taste great, pets enjoy licking them off a spoon, your finger or even their paw.
Price—pet owners have price sensitivities, particularly cat owners, when shopping the supplement aisle. They are looking for a product offering actual visual results when given to their pets at a price that affords them the opportunity to feed long-term if necessary.
Palatability—This is key in the supplement category as a nutritional supplement does not do any good sitting in a drawer or on the counter. If pets enjoy the taste of the supplement, pet owners are more likely to give it on a regular basis, a requirement to truly see results.
PB: How has Pet-Ag’s Fresh ‘n Clean brand risen to its prominent position in the grooming category? What are some of the key products marketed under the Fresh ‘n Clean brand?
Guertin: The Fresh ’n Clean grooming line of products has long been recognized in the grooming industry and is one of the tried, true and trusted product sets that groomers rely on to deliver amazing results. Fresh ’n Clean is known for its long-lasting fragrances that last for up to two weeks. We are working with Animal Behavior College to continue this tradition with the next generation of groomers, and pet owners can experience the same results and lasting freshness when they purchase Fresh ’n Clean retail products.
We are very proud of our Fresh ’n Clean lab and on-staff grooming product experts, led by Dr. Dale Sanson, Ph.D. His expertise in the areas of research and development allow for continued product improvement and quality control. Furthermore, we regularly conduct competitive product wash tests on our own staff dogs. This is critical to maintaining our prestige and product performance in a crowded category. Overall, Fresh’n Clean is the No. 1 brand recommended by groomers, and once product trial takes place, our return rate is over 85 percent. Since the annual purchase cycle of grooming products is only two times a year, repeat business is critical to our success. The product quality and performance speaks for itself.
Fresh ’n Clean also offers an economical grooming product line, Everyday Fresh by Fresh ’n Clean, positioned to be gentle enough for everyday use with similar product performance and the familiar scents of Fresh ’n Clean. We also offer a premium solution-specific line of products using simple, natural, effective ingredients to offer soothing benefits to common issues under our Fresh ’n Clean Skin & Coat Essentials line.
PB: Are there any other product categories that Pet-Ag participates in that you would like to discuss? What are your top-selling products (and their benefits) in these categories?
Guertin: Pet-Ag has a fantastic product within the cat treat category. The company acquired Cat-Sip Real Milk Treat for Cats & Kittens, the only 99 percent lactose-free, real milk liquid treat on the market, in 2014. Made from one percent low-fat grade milk, it is a healthy treat cats love and actually affords them better hydration. Cats were not biologically engineered to consume water to the level required today to stay healthy (getting much of their hydration from prey). Most need more hydration, especially indoor cats and those strictly on dry food diets. Cat-Sip Real Milk Treat for Cats & Kittens provides a low-calorie, healthy treat option with the added benefit of hydration.
PB: Tell us about Pet-Ag’s approach to giving back to the pet community through charitable efforts. What are some of the important initiatives/programs that the company has created in this area?
Guertin: As pet lovers, we strive to give back as much as possible both at a personal and corporate level. Members of our staff have raised donation funds in lieu of wedding presents and birthday gifts, and we recently matched employee donations dollar for dollar over the holidays for deserving non-profit organizations. Furthermore, we donate the majority of our short-dated product to shelters and rescue organizations throughout the year.
In 2017, we are working directly with Hannah Shaw, “The Kitten Lady,” with a national educational outreach workshop program, supplying information and supplies necessary to foster and raise bottle babies to select rescue organizations. Her goal—and one we share—is to help teach more foster homes the ins and outs of neonate critical care to help reduce and eventually eliminate the number of neonates euthanized each year due to lack of care resources.