Raw Food Done Right
Lee Albright, owner of Albright’s Raw Dog Food, discusses why his company stands out in one of the fastest-growing pet nutrition categories.
As someone who has been selling and producing food for people for more than 30 years, what inspired you to get into the raw dog food business?
My wife and I owned meat markets/delicatessens, and a customer asked me to develop a raw dog food. I started researching the raw food movement and found a lot of health benefits for dogs. I also found that many of the “raw” or “natural” products were neither. Some use animal by-products, fillers and synthetic vitamin/mineral mixes. Some cook or pasteurize the food, destroying the probiotic benefits of raw foods. And almost all of them seemed overpriced. I thought I could produce a higher-quality, lower-priced product. It was not easy, but with the help of my staff and a lot of laboratory testing, we created a raw, nutritionally complete product that can be FDA compliant and is reasonably priced.
What sets Albright’s Raw Dog Food’s products apart from other options on the market?
My business model from the beginning was to produce a nutritionally complete raw dog food, starting with human-grade ingredients, at a price point that would appeal to consumers. Our line includes a beef and chicken recipe, and an all beef recipe. By summer, we will add all chicken, all turkey and all pork recipes.
We never use denatured, or 3D or 4D, meat (meat that has been deemed unfit for human consumption). We add fresh eggs, fresh kale, cranberries, unprocessed sunflower oil and dried kelp to our proteins. We do not add fillers such as rice, grain, potatoes, beans or peas. Some raw brands make these claims, but when you compare their ingredient label to Albright’s, you will notice the difference. Some other brands are also not actually raw. They are cooked or pasteurized, thus eliminating the probiotic benefits of raw. To maintain our product integrity, we lab test each batch and maintain a test/hold procedure.
We’re determined to keep our food at a reasonable cost to consumers. That means we are using common meats such as beef, chicken, turkey and pork. While exotic proteins may appeal to some consumers, they’re expensive and don’t fit our business model. We want more pet owners feeding a healthy raw diet to their dogs, not just those with a lot of disposable income.
What types of sales and marketing support do you offer to retailers?
The stores we visit tend to fall into two categories: stores that are new to raw food, and those with several freezers that offer a variety of brands. Some of them have become real “raw” destination stores! The benefit we bring to both categories of retailers is that we have a limited number of SKUs, so we don’t need to take up too much valuable freezer space. Once retailers add our brand, it sells well due to the high quality and the lower price point. Many raw brands retail in the $5.00 to $10.00 per pound price range. My product retails in the $3.50 to $4.00 per pound range. It appeals to consumers on a budget who are looking for a raw food. Retailers want different choices to present to the customer.
We provide free samples to stores, which is the best marketing we have. Dogs can try the food, and store owners don’t have to give away their inventory. Those samples really bring in new customers. When pet owners see the benefits of raw feeding, it brings them back into the store for more. They love to see their dog so happy to be fed.
What does the future hold for Albright’s Raw Dog Food?
Our future depends on our ability to expand distribution. Although Mars, Purina and General Mills have vast resources to persuade distributors to carry new products, I need to be a little more resourceful. Fortunately, I have the facility and the staff to produce a quality product.
We’re excited that Affordable Pet Supply, a distributor in the Mid-Atlantic, has added our products to its lineup. I also have some local distributors in several regions. I would love to hear from any retailers who want to look at my product and learn what distributors they utilize. The question is, can a small manufacturer with a high-quality product compete with the multi-national companies? As you can see, I love a challenge. PB