Petfood Industry (PI) asked Carol Jones-Adams, who founded and runs functional treat maker Overby Farm with her husband and business partner, Bob Adams, to tell us more about her company.
Petfood Industry (PI): You have the story behind how Overby Farm started on your website; can you please describe in a little more detail what inspired you to start the company? Has your philosophy or direction changed since?
Carol Jones-Adams (CJA): Our basic experience in our own family that found relief from arthritis and gout through cherry concentrate is what got the ball rolling. Working with our research university (Michigan State University that patented their anti-inflammatory discovery in tart cherries really helped us. Working with veterinarians and our own desire to produce something beneficial to our pets was the “aha” that began it all in 2004.
PI: What new brands, products or packaging have you introduced in the past 12 months? Can you provide information on how they are doing in the market to date?
CJA: We have been doing much research and development the last 12 months with the focus on taking wheat out of our baked biscuit recipe â€“ Hip Bones. We are also focused on adding a Veggie Bones line and packaging our Hip Flex and Hip Flex Feline products in bottles (as well as the pouches). We are lining all of this up for introduction in 2011.
PI: What are your company’s opportunities and keys to growth? Do you anticipate further growth or expansion into new types of products?
CJA: Joint and hip health in the aging population is still our core value as we expand in the US. We see growth in addressing several biological issues related to aging pets by the use of fruit and nutritional bioactive ingredients.
PI: Besides your focus on natural joint health, what would you say sets your company apart from the competition? Is there anything else you strive to be known for?
CJA: Our story of phytonutrient actives is really our dominant theme in our formulations. The story of functional nutrients for the senior and active pet will be the undercurrent in all our future offerings.Protecting the formula bio-actives for bio-availability in our pets is a science/art we continue to improve by working with our university and veterinary experts.
PI: Please provide sales estimates for the past year or current year to date—or a comment on sales trends.
CJA: We’re a private company. Our sales continue to grow as people get to know about us. We have done no advertising or promotion to speak of â€“ relying mostly on word of mouth â€“ and still expect to exceed US$1 million in retail sales in the US alone over the next year. The economy slowed our growth somewhat in 2009, but the trend is still positive.
PI: What are some of your most difficult challenges? In other words, what keeps you awake at night?
CJA: Cash flow! We want to do a lot more a lot faster! We also keep a close eye on continuously reviewing our ingredient decks and improving processing parameters to ensure the highest retention of actives in our formulations.
PI: Were you affected by the 2007 petfood recalls and, if so, how?
CJA: Not directly. Our surveillance and quality plans have stepped up and this wake-up call was good for our industry.
PI: How would you evaluate the current state of the petfood industry? What do you think are the biggest issues facing it?
CJA: We did not grow up in this industry, so it is refreshing and full of great individuals. International markets will be huge growth accelerators.
In our niche, regulation and claims are under constant surveillance â€“ a necessary aspect of any industry and welcomed for the safety of our pets. Just like in human food offerings, health through better nutrition is critical for our animals, and we are committed as a company to this belief, which keeps us continuously researching the most effective ingredient, processing and packaging combinations for health. Much of what we learn regarding how diet can help the body heal itself are discoveries that we are unable to advertise and talk about due to the regulatory environment, albeit well-intentioned and necessary. To that end, it is more important than ever that consumers continue to educate themselves about ingredients and bio-availability so that they really understand what is in their food and their pet’s food!
PI: Is there anything else you’d like to tell our readers about your company?
CJA: Yes, we appreciate Petfood Industry stepping to the plate to tell stories of concern and interest! Keep buying our products and we’ll keep introducing new innovative formulations for our companion animals. It’s the cherries!
Pet owners want a lot from their pet food brands. They want primary proteins that suit what they believe is best for their animal. They want grains or they don't. They want something customized, but it has to be easy to understand.
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