Pet Worldwide magazine recently interviewed Warren Hill of Midwestern Petfoods, producers of Pro Pac and Earthborn Holistic. He talks about current trends, the increasing competition in the pet food market and the company’s new product line (article reprinted from Pet Worldwide magazine).
The market for dog food is a dynamic market worldwide and new brands are constantly appearing. What is Midwestern’s attitude to this?
We used to compete against only four or five leading pet food brands in most markets. Currently, in the United States we compete with more than 100 brands. The level of pet food competition in virtually all countries today is fierce. On a positive note, over the past two decades the global pet food market has expanded beyond all expectations. Explosive growth begets new entrants. Competition is beneficial not only to consumers; it also forces us to constantly improve. Our product offering is much stronger now than at any time in the past. Much of this can attributed to the competitiveness of the market today.
What are the decisive market trends for you at present with regard to dog food?
There are currently three decisive trends that are profoundly shaping the pet food market. They are humanisation, premiumisation and naturalisation. To the surprise of many, these movements show no sign of slowing. Indeed, we may still be in the early days of these market transformations.
Barf feeding is growing in popularity in Europe. Does your company intend to become more involved in this area in the future?
It isn’t a market category that we’re pursuing.
The price of pet food is falling in many countries due to the growing influence of e-commerce. How are you reacting to this development?
Nowhere is this development more evident than in Europe, where e-commerce is drastically changing the pet product business. What’s more, the changes we’ve seen are only the beginning. With respect to price, I suspect that certain companies have turned a blind eye to pricing policies due to their declining sales. Such a strategy will ultimately damage those brands. Our goal is to continue to strike a balance be- tween successfully building upon our partnerships with the traditional pet speciality channels and successfully adapting to an ever- changing e-commerce landscape. We see tremendous opportunities for both traditional retailers and e- commerce businesses.
What was your company’s experience of this year’s Global Pet Expo in Orlando?
Without a doubt, Global Pet Expo is one of the world’s best venues for exhibiting pet products. Each year new attendance records are set with the largest growth seemingly coming from new international participation. Year after year our results at Global Pet Expo are representative of this.
What is your company currently focusing on?
We’re busy improving and expanding our offering. In the last twelve months we’ve introduced two all-new natural pet food lines, Pro Pac Ultimates and Sportmix Wholesomes, both of which show great promise. We’re also planning to introduce another bold new product line late this year.
The market in Russia and in Ukraine has been disrupted by the political crisis. What is your reaction to this?
To be sure, Russia and Ukraine present significant challenges at the moment. However, we continue to see strong long-term potential, particularly in the Russian pet speciality sector.