Sourcing Outside the United States
Looking beyond what the U.S. has to offer, globally sourcing ingredients provide a variety of ingredient options for manufacturers to choose from.
It’s no secret that millenials, the target demographic for retailers, love to travel.
According to Deloitte’s 2019 Millennials Survey, traveling and having new experiences were at the top of a millenial’s list of aspirations. From Instagram feeds filled with exotic locations, featuring fresh local foods and adventures unique to the region, to articles on the next greatest vacation spots around the globe, millenials are proving to consistently value experience over personal items.
However, globally-sourced items that involve their pets, particularly products that play a role in a pet’s health, are a different story. As pet parents are increasingly aware of what’s in their pet’s food and how it’s sourced, manufacturers have to take that extra step to ensure retailers, and therefore customers, know what they’re selling/consuming is quality.
While locations in the U.S. may strive to provide the cleanest, freshest ingredients possible, sometimes climate can make a significant impact on certain crops.
“The remote location and geographical position of New Zealand provide several benefits when it comes to sourcing our ingredients,” says Andrew Tippin, marketing specialist at New Zealand-based Ziwi. “Our remote location provides for an environment free from infectious animal diseases that many farm animals can experience in the U.S., and our temperate climate allows us to keep our animals free-range and grass-fed in their natural environment year round. Our fish are also wild caught from some of the cleanest waters in the world.”
In fact, one popular ingredient that Ziwi uses in several products—Green-Lipped Mussels, which help support a pet’s long-term joint health, as well as a healthy skin and coat—can only be sourced from New Zealand.
For many manufacturers, sourcing the best quality ingredients is the main priority, regardless of what those ingredients might be. This type of thinking outside the box (or, in this case, outside the country) can lead to fresher and higher-quality ingredients.
“We believe that the best ingredients make the best food,” says Katie McNulty, marketing coordinator of Midwestern Pet Foods. “In creating Venture Limited Ingredient Diets for Dogs, we traveled the world searching for the best ingredients such as rabbit and duck from France and squid from the Pacific Coastal waters of Peru.
“We love to source ingredients from the United States, and we do so whenever possible. However, the best, most nutritious ingredients can’t always be found in your own backyard, state, or sometimes even in your own country!”
Many companies start looking for ingredients in their own backyards, which is not always in the U.S. For companies that begin abroad, sourcing ingredients from their home country is something they have always done, believe in and will continue to do.
For example, pet food company Farmina has been sourcing its ingredients and manufacturing its products outside of the U.S. since it was founded in Italy, says marketing manager Josh Wasserman.
“That’s where our story began,” says Wasserman. “We are an Italian family-owned company and continue to have our products produced in our Italy facility and shipped over.”
For Farmina, continuing to source in Italy means ensuring that pet parents are receiving the same products with the same ingredients they have always enjoyed.
“We are sourcing many of our raw ingredients throughout Italy and France, [from suppliers] that have specialized in the production of that ingredient. By regionally sourcing the ingredients from specialized producers, we can utilize the highest quality ingredients and ensure its freshness,” says Wasserman. “For instance, we source our wild boar from the Tuscan and Umbria regions.”
There are many positive reasons why manufacturers decide to globally-source products, but some American customers may still have concerns.
“One of the biggest challenges companies like Ziwi face when sourcing outside the U.S. is educating consumers and pet parents on the benefits of sourcing outside the country.
As the humanization of pets continues to trend upward, owners are looking more and more at what they feed their pets, and the ability to find reliable and trustworthy information has become more challenging,” says Tippin.
Dealing with customer apprehension about the quality of ingredients is something that all companies may deal with, but when you source outside the U.S., it’s important to highlight why these ingredients are the best for your products.
For Ziwi, being a source of information for customers is key to helping them understand why they use certain ingredients in their pet food, as opposed to others.
“Our meat and seafood are 100 percent ethically- and sustainably-sourced from New Zealand farms and waters, and then gently air-dried and processed in our family-owned and operated kitchens,” says Tippin. “All of our recipes are prepared in small batches featuring 96 percent meat and organ inclusions without any artificial binders or preservatives.”
Midwestern Pet Foods waits until the product officially meets all FDA Preventive Control requirements before deciding if it will be included in its recipes, and according to McNulty, “only when this supplier is approved, will they be added to our approved supplier list.”
“Once an ingredient is considered for use in our recipes, to ensure that our safety and quality standards are met, each individual ingredient supplier is thoroughly vetted through an ingredient supplier review process including assurance that the international supplier meets all FDA Preventive Controls requirements,” says McNulty.
For companies that source their ingredients from different countries, ensuring that the process runs as smoothly as possible and the ingredients being promised are delivered is imperative.
“Midwestern Pet Foods utilizes trained team members to ensure all FDA standards are met during the initial or ongoing review of an international ingredient supplier,” says McNulty. “Utilizing team members that are specially trained is critical to our success in importing safe and nutritious ingredients for our pet food recipes.”
At the end of the day, there needs to be trust between the manufacturer and the supplier, regardless of where the ingredients are being sourced.
“Nutrition and safety are our highest priorities,” says McNulty. “We take the time to know our ingredient suppliers. We only select ingredients and producers we trust and those with exemplary quality and safety standards.”
Owners can share refreshing, high-quality food grown all over the world with their pets. As the trend towards the humanization of pets continues, pet parents bring a reminder of their global adventures right into their homes, and to their pets. PB