Pet Product News-June 2012-Comp : Page 1

FLIP OVER FOR Natural Pet Cat PRODUCT MERCHANDISER ™ Satisfying Scratching Needs page 38 Small Mammal New Treats and Chews Abound page 44 Pet Product N ews CLAY JACKSON/BOWTIE INC. JUNE 2012 $5.OO PetProductNews.com ® PET P R O D UCT THE LEADER IN PET SUPPLIES MARKETING FOR 66 YEARS NEW S INTERN Cool Tasty Treats Heat Up Sales By Sandy Robins uly is National Ice Cream Month, and there’s no question that dogs enjoy frozen treats as much as people do, making these items a lucrative addition to a pet specialty retailer’s treat selection. Matt Meyer has plenty of fond childhood memories of weekly family outings to the local ice cream parlor that included the family dog, a poodle named Babette. “Babette loved ice cream but would always get sick afterward,” recalled Meyer, who with his J Make the Hobby With Helping fishkeepers keep track of aquarium conditions can ensure success for both hobbyists and retailers. Easier Controllers By David Lass o be successful, aquarists have to monitor their setups. But peering through the glass isn’t enough, in many cases: cus-tomers are likely to need other types of monitoring equipment, especially with larger, more elabo-rate setups, and even with small-er, less stable tanks. That’s where store owners can help hobbyists and grab sales. Controllers , page 22 wife, Meg Hanceford Meyer, runs The Bear and The Rat: Cool Treats for Dogs in Denver. Twenty years later, determined to let his incumbent pets enjoy cold treats, he launched The Bear and The Rat to manufacture frozen treats for Frozen Treats , page 30 T Merrick Acquires Castor & Pollux In a bid to bolster its offerings, Mer-rick Pet Care Inc. of Amarillo, Texas, signed a deal to acquire Castor & Pollux Natural PetWorks of Clacka-mas, Ore. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. “The addition of the outstanding Castor & Pollux brands give us a sol-id footing within the natural and organic space,” said Garth Merrick, founder of Merrick Pet Care. “Cou-pled with some exciting new plans we have to evolve the Merrick brands in the next few months, we are well positioned for growth of our entire Texas-based operation.” Merrick and Castor & Pollux co-founder Brian Connolly will remain board members and investors of the merged entity, as will Merrick CEO ADVERTISEMENT COURTESY OF NATURE’S VARIETY Get customers and their pets excited for the summer season with an array of frozen snacks, from single-serve frozen yogurt packs to DIY kits. Greg Shearson. “This acquisition is about build-ing a new company that is even stronger than the sum of its parts, Shearson said. “Even in this histori-cally difficult economic environment, we see pet parents seeking higher quality and ingredient certainty in the food choices they are making for Merrick , page 7 Digital Edition Extra View products showcased Backer’s spring show at Super Premium Natural Pet Food Quality that shows. Exclusively at Visit www.PetEdgeDS.com/Blackwood or call (888) 876-2567 for details. Circle No. 165 on Reader Service Card TIO INTERNATIONAL NAL A

Cool Tasty Treats Heat Up Sales

Sandy Robins

Get customers and their pets excited for the summer season with an array of frozen snacks, from single-serve frozen yogurt packs to DIY kits.

July is National Ice Cream Month, and there’s no question that dogs enjoy frozen treats as much as people do, making these items a lucrative addition to a pet specialty retailer’s treat selection.

Matt Meyer has plenty of fond childhood memories of weekly family outings to the local ice cream parlor that included the family dog, a poodle named Babette.

“Babette loved ice cream but would always get sick afterward,” recalled Meyer, who with his wife, Meg Hanceford Meyer, runs The Bear and The Rat: Cool Treats for Dogs in Denver.

Twenty years later, determined to let his incumbent pets enjoy cold treats, he launched The Bear and The Rat to manufacture frozen treats for dogs that are not only palatable but healthful.

“Currently we manufacture three flavors, but there are more in development,” said Hanceford Meyer. “Up to now, our distribution has been within Colorado, but the product will soon be available in California, and we have plans for other states, too.

“We are only able to target stores that have refrigeration. But we are looking into creating our own refrigerated unit that we will offer to stores. Apart from making our product more widely available, it’s a great way to advertise prominently in a retail space.”

Deb Dempsey, owner of Mouthfuls pet boutique in Denver, stocks a couple of different brands of frozen treats.

“We also stock various frozen food lines,” Dempsey said. “Generally our clientele is very educated about the benefits of holistic nutrition and thus they understand the health benefits of giving their pets frozen treats that contain probiotics, too. In fact, some of our customers give frozen treats to their pets as part of their daily diet. It’s like giving them a dessert after their main meal.”

Because there’s an ice cream parlor close to Mouthfuls, Dempsey said her staff often hands out samples on a Saturday when customers themselves are enjoying ice cream.

On the Shelf

Smart Pup treats don’t require refrigeration in-store and have a shelf life of 18 months, according to manufacturer Ubuntu Pet in Portland, Maine.

“We consider them frozen treats because they have a pudding- like consistency which can be frozen inside pet toys like the Kong or in special-shaped ice trays,” said Brooke Nicholas, owner of the company. “It can also be served at room temperature.

“Our three flavors all target different health issues,” Nicholas continued. “The Peanut Butter and Banana flavor contains supplements for hip and joint, the Pumpkin and Chicken Soup targets digestive health issues, and the Salmon and Sweet Potato is geared for pets with skin and coat issues.”

The company markets four treats in a box but recently brought out an individual 2-ounce size in the Chicken and Sweet Potato flavor designed for retailers to stock at the checkout in a specially designed counter display.

“I have customers who buy treats that can be served at room temperature or frozen for doggie birthday parties,” said Kathleen Percy, owner of Milford Feed Co. In Milford, Mich. “I have them placed on the counter near the checkout. They are a great conversation starter and it allows me to engage customers on the topic and also sell them the product to try.”

In the Freezer

For pet stores that have freezer units, selling frozen foods as well as treats makes sense. By the same token, companies such as Nature’s Variety have started manufacturing frozen diets and treats.

“We have a freezer program which provides our retailers with a full selection of frozen raw food, bones and our frozen SweetSpots treats as part of a comprehensive merchandising and sales program,” said Jill Gainer, director of communications and consumer insights for Nature’s Variety Inc., which has headquarters in St. Louis.

“SweetSpots are made with natural ingredients. They are 98 percent lactose free, fortified with whey protein and enriched with live active yogurt cultures,” Gainer added.

Pet specialty retailers that stock the product get company support to hold SweetSpots socials in their store to encourage pet owners to bring in their dogs for fun and interaction with other pets and owners.

“We provide a guidebook on how to have a successful social,” Gainer said. “It outlines how to set up a table and make the treats more fun with toppings such as carob chips. We also provide social marketing help for them by posting the location, time and date on our website during the summer months. While we don’t provide free treats, we do negotiate a special deal with each individual retailer.”

Many pet owners are not aware that they can purchase frozen yogurt for their pets, said Karen Walter, owner of A Pet’s Paradise in Denver.

“It’s a matter of educating them and offering them in addition to traditional treat selections,” she said.

Two Bostons, with two pet boutiques in Naperville, Ill., has built a reputation for stocking a wide variety of doggie confectionary items, and owners AdreAnne and Andy Tesene carry a large selection of frozen treats.

“During the summer we display samples right on top of our bakery case and point them out to customers and have a well stocked freezer close by,” AdreAnne Tesene said. “They make great impulse buys for dogs that come in to the store to enjoy on the spot.

“I always make the point that they are a healthy option because none of the products we stock have the added sugars,” she added.

Once a dog tastes a cold treat, there’s no going back, according to Gabe Martinez, director of The Gralen Co. In Downey, Calif., which distributes Head Of The Pack’s Freezy Pups nationwide as well as in Asia, South America and various European markets.

“This is obvious by repeat orders on a regular basis for the product,” he said. “The product has shelf life and is not subject to finicky climate control and is designed for pet owners to have fun making frozen treats in different shapes for their pets.”

The company also markets a kit for retailers to offer customers. It comprises a bone-shaped ice cube tray and a sample packet of the four organic recipes, which are White Cheddar Cheese, Juicy Apple, Sweet Potato ‘n Maple and Chicken Soup.

Take-Home Trays

Companies that specialize in baked confectionery for pets are climbing on the frozen treat bandwagon by manufacturing silicone bakeware that works both in the oven and in the freezer.

“Our new silicone dog bone cake pan is made from FDAapproved nonstick silicone and is safe to use in a conventional oven, microwave and freezer and can be cleaned in a dishwasher,” said Andrew Colsky, founder and CEO of K9Cakery.com, an online dog bakery supply company that supplies both pet specialty retailers and consumers directly.

The pan yields mini dog cakes, dog biscuits or ice cubes in the shape of a dog bone.

“Currently we have some frozen dog treat recipes available on our website, and we will be coming out with a product for dog owners to be able to make their own homemade frozen dog treats within the next year,” Colsky added.

The company also makes a yogurt cake frosting for dogs, which can be added to a frozen treat as a topping to make a doggie parfait for that extra special occasion.

Retailers can further capitalize on the homemade frozen treat trend and boost toy sales by suggesting to customers that they fill and freeze rubber toys with some of these products to provide extra canine fun in the sun.

From a canine standpoint, hot summer days never tasted so good.

Read the full article at http://www.bluetoad.com/article/Cool+Tasty+Treats+Heat+Up+Sales/1061590/112541/article.html.

Make The Hobby Easier With Controllers

David Lass

Helping fishkeepers keep track of aquarium conditions can ensure success for both hobbyists and retailers.

To be successful, aquarists have to monitor their setups. But peering through the glass isn’t enough, in many cases: customers are likely to need other types of monitoring equipment, especially with larger, more elaborate setups, and even with smaller, less stable tanks. That’s where store owners can help hobbyists and grab sales.

Equipment used to perform the task of tracking system parameters runs the gamut from thermometers, pH dip strips, simple timers and automatic feeders, to computer-based control systems that allow for precise monitoring and adjustment.

Low Tech

The most basic form of control for an aquarium is a simple timer. Here, unfortunately, aquatic shops have a lot of competition.

“I get the cheap ones from Home Depot for $10,” said John Naoum, owner of Poseidon Aquariums, a large installation and maintenance firm in Marlborough, Mass.

However, it is still important to offer these products and most local fish stores reported carry simple timers for aquarium lights.

“We keep our timers in our lighting section,” said John Music, general manager of Pet Palace in Clarksville, Tenn. “Ninety percent of our timer sales are generated when we are diagnosing algae issues for our customers.”

“It’s amazing how often I hear ‘I leave my lights on all the time,’” Music added.

Simply controlling light levels throughout the day may escape some aquarists’ attention. This applies to other forms of monitoring, as well. Every tank should have its own thermometer, and most of these are really simple and inexpensive, industry participants reported. However, more sophisticated temperature monitoring and control systems are also available.

For example, the PinPoint Temperature Controller from Ridgefield, Conn.-based American Marine is designed to regulate temperature, especially in systems where a heater and a chiller are both used, said Lou Dell, owner the company. Products such as this allow aquarists to address technical issues and maintain stability.

“Without a controller, it is common for both a heater and a chiller to be on at the same time, wasting a lot of electricity,” Lou added.

Keeping the aquarium environment on an even keel is important to ensure success, and retailers have many add-on sales options to help customers do just this. Though controlling the environment comes to mind first when thinking of monitoring and controller products, other types of regulation, such as that provided by an automatic fish feeder, can actually keep system parameters in optimal ranges by reducing nutrient loads, industry participants stated.

“Eheim Everyday Fish Feeders, and [the company’s] Twin Feeders, are easily the best I have used,” reported Don Grant, owner of Living Waters Aquarium in Peabody, Mass., a installation and maintenance company.

Price and durability play a role in retailers’ decisions as to what feeders they should offer.

“I use Hydor’s Ekomixo feeder on a lot of my aquariums,” Naoum stated. “I find it to be a useful, durable and inexpensive feeder.”

Local fish store operators also reported having favorite products to offer when it comes to automatic fish feeders.

“We mostly sell Eheim [automatic feeders], and we are looking into the new Lifegard feeders,” said Todd Furmanec, one of the managers at Absolutely Fish in Clifton, N.J.

High Tech

In the past year or two, several sophisticated monitors and controllers have entered the market, those in the industry stated.

These range from multi-setting light timers, to pH monitors and controllers for CO2 in planted tanks and calcium reactors for marine aquariums. In many cases, manufacturers are increasingly incorporating these products into other equipment.

“AquaticLife integrates a multi- channel digital timer into the majority of the fixtures we manufacture,” said Mike Elliott, coowner of AquaticLife in Commerce, Calif. “This timer controls two channels of T5HO lights, as well as the 1W lunar LED lights.”

“Creating the circadian cycle for the fish and corals is important, as this is what they get in nature,” Elliott noted.

There are many relatively sophisticated monitors available, American Marine’s Dell pointed out, including pH controllers for use with carbon dioxide injection, and calcium or kalkwasser reactors. Also, hobbyists can find controllers for ozone gas control.

All-encompassing controllers exist that allow hobbyists to alter the functioning of several components attached to their aquariums, including pump and powerhead operations, timers, gauges and even dosing equipment. In some cases, these monitors and controllers can even be accessed and tweaked through the Internet and smartphone apps.

The Problem of Price

One of the largest considerations for retailers when it comes to high-end equipment has to do with pricing and competition.

“We like EcoTech’s product line,” said Jeff Champlin, co-owner of Critter Hut in Narragansett and North Kingstown, R.I. “The products are excellent, and [EcoTech] sticking to MAP [minimum advertised price] pricing will be a main consideration for our bringing it in.”

When it comes to some products, retailers reported feeling they are too expensive to easily offer to customers.

“As these products get more sophisticated, and prices come down, we will probably carry more [of them],” said Steve Oberg, fishroom manager for Preuss Pets in Lansing, Mich.

The major problem with monitors and controllers being sold in the hobby today is intense price competition between Internetbased retailers and brick-and-mortar local fish stores.

“We’re very hesitant to bring in high-end products, because of the competition from the Internet,” Critter Hut’s Champlin said. “You can go online and find stuff for less than we can buy it for.”

The cost of carrying some items may exceed the value of offering them, even with a small markup.

“There are margins, and then there are margins,” Preuss Pets’ Oberg said. “I don’t like the idea of having to sell any product for my cost plus only 10 percent.”

This may be troubling for retailers focusing on more technical aspects of the hobby, as these kinds of products are essential for hobbyist success. For example, some monitor and controller combinations are almost required for planted and reef tanks.

“We do use pH controllers for marine reactors,” said Absolutely Fish’s Furmanec. “But it is difficult for us to compete on price alone with the Internet.”

It doesn’t stop at prices, either. Other considerations make it difficult for retail stores to carry high end monitors and controllers, including competition from the customers themselves.

“In addition to the price competition from the Internet, there are DIY instructions for carbon dioxide systems, calcium reactors,[ and other equipment] all over the web,” said Sean Fitzgerald, general manager of The Fish Nook in Acton, Mass.

Sales tax is another problem for non-Internet based retailers when it comes to competing with online-based retailers.

“On high-priced items especially, we have to collect sales tax, which makes us that much more expensive out of the starting gate,” said Rich Toonen, owner of Forest Lake Pets in Forest Lake, Minn.

These problems are unlikely to go away, many in the industry reported. When it comes to sales tax, barring legislative intervention, it seems unlikely much will change. Meanwhile, to combat these issues, brick-and-mortar retailers reported focusing on maintaining the largest selection of the best fish to keep customers engaged and coming into—and back to—their shops.

Read the full article at http://www.bluetoad.com/article/Make+The+Hobby+Easier+With+Controllers/1061602/112541/article.html.

Merrick Acquires Castor & Pollux

In a bid to bolster its offerings, Merrick Pet Care Inc. of Amarillo, Texas, signed a deal to acquire Castor & Pollux Natural PetWorks of Clackamas, Ore. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“The addition of the outstanding Castor & Pollux brands give us a solid footing within the natural and organic space,” said Garth Merrick, founder of Merrick Pet Care. “Coupled with some exciting new plans we have to evolve the Merrick brands in the next few months, we are well positioned for growth of our entire Texas-based operation.”

Merrick and Castor & Pollux cofounder Brian Connolly will remain board members and investors of the merged entity, as will Merrick CEO Greg Shearson.

“This acquisition is about building a new company that is even stronger than the sum of its parts, Shearson said. “Even in this historically difficult economic environment, we see pet parents seeking higher quality and ingredient certainty in the food choices they are making for themselves and their pets. And together, we can better meet the growing demand for the highest quality pet food.”

Merrick Pet Care plans to continue Castor & Pollux’s marketing approach but consolidate operations in Texas, which will allow it to more fully use its manufacturing capacity in Hereford, Texas.

The merged company will target the “super premium” and natural/ organic segments, which Euromonitor International estimated at $6.2 billion, nearly one-third of the $19 billion pet food market in 2011, and growing faster than other pet food segments.

Key Castor & Pollux brands include Organix, the first food for dogs and cats that met the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program requirements; Natural Ultramix; and Good Buddy treats and pet supplies.

Read the full article at http://www.bluetoad.com/article/Merrick+Acquires+Castor+%26amp%3B+Pollux/1061609/112541/article.html.

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