The Importance of Made in the USA Products
The Made in the USA trend is putting the patriotism back in pet supplies.
Years ago, a catchy jingle from the International Ladies Garments Workers Union urged TV viewers to “Look for the union label when you are buying a coat, dress or blouse… It says we’re able to make it in the USA!”
Unfortunately, American-made clothing has largely fallen by the wayside, but thankfully the “Buy American” movement is alive and well in pet stores across the nation, with an ever-increasing number of consumers demanding foods, treats, supplements, shampoos, aquarium supplies, leashes, collars and other products bearing a “Made in the USA” seal or emblem for their animal companions—and they are willing to pay a premium for them over comparable products from China and other foreign countries.
With this in mind, astute retailers are highlighting American-made products with shelf talkers, shelf tapes, and endcap and in-store displays.
“Retailers have reported to us that, by dedicating very specific space to a host of products that are labeled ‘Made in the USA,’ they have had success at driving consumer interest into the product category,” says Matt Koss, founder and president of Primal Pet Foods, based in Fairfield, Calif.
“Retailers that take the time to have their manufacturer partners assist them with staff education on the subject and details regarding Made in the USA report higher sales volumes of these products as a result of staff having a greater understanding of, and ultimately confidence and trust in, the brand offering these types of products,” he says.
Redbarn Pet Products offers retailers marketing materials like wobblers, brochures and unique floor displays to help showcase its products.
“Beyond our offerings, stores may want to dedicate an aisle or section to American-made products, especially if it’s a common desire amongst their pet parents,” says Rashell Cooper, marketing director of Redbarn Pet Products, headquartered in Long Beach, Calif.
In pet circles, the renewed interest in the “Buy-American” movement stretches back to 2007, when dogs and cats died from renal failure traced to melamine linked to wheat gluten imported from China and used in pet foods, prompting a massive recall.
“The consumer’s and retailer’s quality awareness were changed more or less overnight by the foreign ingredient contamination scandals of a few years back, and it is even stronger now, with many—if not most—consumers watching for the ‘Made in the USA’ seal,” says Harald Fisker, president of Grizzly Pet Products, a Woodinville, Wash.-based manufacturer of all-natural supplements, foods and treats.
“For consumers who want the best for their dogs, Made in the USA should be the first thing they look for in dog treats,” says Joe Wallington, president and CEO of Jones Natural Chews, based in Rockford, Ill. “It’s critically important for retailers to dedicate their shelves to products that are Made in the USA. There’s a confidence level associated with U.S.A.-sourced and -made treats and chew brands that is unmatched,” he says.
That also holds true with aquarium supplies. Milwaukee-based Python Products is easy to spot at trade shows because it is the booth proudly flying the American flag overhead.
“We have been in business for 35 years, and all of our stuff is 100-percent made in America,” says Lance Reyniers, president of Python Products. “Consumers call us all the time asking if our stuff is really still made in America. We say, ‘Yes, it is.’ Boom! Sale done!”
He attributes that to the fact that his tubing offers consumers a major advantage over imported product.
“All of our tubing is medical grade, and BPA-, arsenic- and lead-free,” Reyniers says. “It is unfortunate that we are the only ones that can say that. Tubing and products made in China are not BPA-, arsenic- and lead-free. They are not safe for aquariums, and the water quality passing through those hoses is not safe.”
Reyniers notes that these factors strike an important chord with shoppers. “I can tell you, first hand, that if there’s a difference in price, people don’t mind spending a little bit more for ‘Made in America’ quality,” he says.
In this way, shoppers often value American-made products the way they appreciate eco-friendly and all-natural pet fare.
“Along the lines of everyone going green and natural, people are also looking at Made in the USA in the same type of way,” says Jon Neveloff, partner, at King Kanine, a Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.-based manufacturer of products including deshedding tools and the hemp-enriched King Kalm Cannabinoid CBD line of Crunch treats, Soothe Hot Spot + Itch Spray, Balm and CBD oil.
King Kanine’s newest product is Clean Paws. “It is like a non-alcoholic hand sanitizer for paws,” Neveloff says. “When you think about it, they go outside and do their thing and then come inside and jump on the couch or the bed. For the winter, our King Kanine Balm helps heal the skin from the chafing caused by salt. It is made with Phytocannabinoid rich CBD oil, natural beeswax, coconut oil and Manuka honey,” he says.
Beyond the perceived assurance of safety and quality that comes with these products, many pet owners are also seeking out items sporting a Made in the USA label because of the positive impact that they can have on the broader community.
“Buying American Made products support the U.S. economy and American manufacturing with safe and fair working conditions and strict child labor laws,” says Julie Creed, vice president of sales & marketing at Pura Naturals Pet. “When you buy products with the ‘USA Made’ label, you also aid sustainability by reducing our carbon footprint.”
Based in Ardsley, N.Y., Pura Naturals Pet manufactures a broad line of dog and feline grooming products and an award-winning health and wellness line. “This year, we added new categories with Organic Dental Solutions, Flea & Tick Natural Dog Shampoo and our luxurious Luster Loft Fleece Blankets that can be customized with embroidered paw prints and your pet’s name. We are also looking forward to launching some exciting new products in 2019,” Creed says.
Raising the Flag
With demand for Made in the USA products growing constantly, it’s no wonder that manufacturers like Pura Naturals emphasize this important trait prominently in their marketing.
“We actively promote that Pura Natural Pet products are USA Made,” Creed says. “It is a big part of who we are and also aids in our sustainability. ‘USA Made’ is prominently featured on our product packaging, website, catalog, advertising, subsequent collateral and point-of-purchase pieces for retailers.”
Redbarn is another pet product manufacturer that proudly displays a “Made in the USA” emblem prominently on a variety of its products, including its signature Rolled Food and its newest line of treats for cats and dogs, Protein Puffs—both of which are manufactured at its state-of-the-art plant in Great Bend, Kan.
“Our ‘Made in the USA’ emblem was designed in-house by our art department; however, the use of all ‘Made in the USA’ icons are strictly monitored by the FTC,” says Cooper. “To use it, all or virtually all ingredients must be sourced from the States.”
“Sometimes we do look outside the U.S. for premium, natural ingredients, but when we do, we hold all partners to our same American standards,” Cooper adds, noting that, along with its traditional “Made in the USA” emblem, Redbarn also has a “Made in the USA with globally sourced ingredients” icon.
“It is a definite selling point for some pet parents,” she says.
In addition to Great Bend, Redbarn also operates a bully stick factory in Paraguay, which was established because the company found that the U.S. is not a top producer of quality bulls required in bully stick manufacturing. “We completely own our sourcing and two manufacturing plants. We have complete control over the entire process from innovation and sourcing to manufacturing and packaging,” she says.
For Grizzly’s part, Fisker notes that most of the company’s products “are inherently made from American ingredients with wild Alaskan salmon being the sole or main constituent. It’s always been Grizzly’s strategy to use natural, American-made ingredients when at all possible.”
According to Koss, the sourcing of the highest quality raw materials produced and grown in the U.S. is a core initiative for all of its products. “Primal devotes a significant percentage of our time and budget to foraging for ingredients that are sourced in the U.S. and that are passed and inspected for human consumption (edible grade ingredients) only,” he says, adding that retailers should source their suppliers that utilize raw materials fit for human consumption.
“This quality grade of ingredients ensures a higher level nutritional value as well as stricter standards of food handling and safety,” Koss says. “Products simply bearing the ‘Made in the USA’ label do not guarantee retailers or consumers that those products were produced with the highest grade level of ingredients, nor under production standards that require strict quality and food safety standards.”
Dog treats from Jones Natural Chews are 100 percent USA-raised, -sourced and -manufactured. “Using locally sourced, natural U.S. ingredients helps ensure that the Jones Natural Chews brand delivers the highest quality and freshest treat eating experience for dogs,” Wallington says. The treats are made with high-quality proteins, including salmon, duck, chicken, beef, alligator, pheasant and wild boar, with nutritious inclusions such as cranberry, blueberry, brown rice and sweet potato. “We will launch two 100-percent, single-ingredient versions of Jones Select prior to the end of the year,” Wallington adds.
Harnessing American Ingenuity
2 Hounds Design has been turning heads—and tails—with its stylish line of American-made harnesses, collars and leashes since 2003, when founder Alisha Navarro created the company with a $500 investment after she had trouble finding suitable martingale collars for her two adopted retired Greyhounds.
Today, 2 Hounds Design employs a team of more than 50 associates, manufacturing nearly 300 different products from its 20,000 square-foot plant in Indian Trail, N.C. A strong emphasis is placed on sourcing high-quality ingredients from fellow U.S. manufacturers. Among the company’s most popular products is the Freedom No-Pull Harness, featuring a patented control loop with a D-ring on the back of the harness which tightens gently around the dog’s chest to discourage pulling, making walking the dog an easy, more enjoyable experience for both the pet and its owner.
The Freedom No-Pull Harness is used by many shelters, humane societies, SPCA organizations and private shelters because it can be instrumental in rehabilitating a dog with little chance of adoption. To date, 2 Hounds Design has raised more than $500,000 for shelters through fundraising, donations and hosting auctions. PB