In March 2011, Alison Wiener and Hanna Mandelbaum, owners of Evermore Pet Food, announced they would eat only their petfood for a month, airing daily "live feeds" online to chronicle the promotion. The founders of this year-old company used this "guerrilla-like" marketing campaign to create awareness for their holistic products that they call not only human grade but actually "human edible." Though still modest, sales of the petfood products, which are "gently cooked," then frozen, are growing rapidly—Evermore predicts sales of US$150,000 for 2011.
Evermore is a pioneering brand in the relatively new “frozen cooked” category. Its products are priced competitively to other premium canned foods, its lower-temperature cooking process better maintains nutrients and its packaging is BPA-free, say the co-founders. The innovative brand appeals to consumers who may be turned off by raw—either from a personal discomfort factor, safety concerns or because their dogs simply do not do well on raw diets—and a portion of home cooks who are looking for high-quality ingredients.
"Evermore appeals to this segment where other commercial options have failed, as our products mirror the quality and process of home cooking," explains Mandelbaum. "Because we do it on a commercial scale, every batch is guaranteed to be nutritionally balanced (a big concern for home cookers), and it takes a lot less work to thaw a container of Evermore than it does to cook dinner for your dog!"
The company's first two recipes for dogs—chicken and beef—were launched in March 2010. In just over a year, Evermore has built a loyal customer base, scored 30 accounts in New York City and the Hudson Valley, received press from the likes of CNN and The New York Post and set up an online store. In May 2011, the company launched throughout the Northeast US with distributor Pet Food Experts. And the key to this growth? "We provide innovative products in the marketplace," say Wiener and Mandelbaum. "We take a very creative approach to promoting our brand. We follow every lead and make as many connections as possible."
For the month of March 2011, Mandelbaum and Wiener put their mouths where their money is by subsisting exclusively on dog food formulas and recipes made only from the whole-food ingredients in their food. Dubbing the campaign Evermore Me—a tongue-in-cheek reference to the 2004 film Super Size Me—the Brooklyn-based co-founders extensively documented the process and its results on their website, www.evermorepetfood.com. “This is not about the shock value of eating dog food,” said Wiener at the time of the 30-day diet. “We want to stand behind our claims by demonstrating the integrity of our products.” Since Evermore is specifically formulated to meet the Association of American Feed Control Official requirements for dogs, the two consulted with a nutritionist to ensure they were eating a balanced diet.
"We would rather go out of business than compromise on the quality and integrity of our ingredients," says Wiener. "We are truly passionate about creating healthy, sustainable and delicious food for pets. People often tell us that we’re like the Ben & Jerry’s of petfood." And it's that attitude that has the future of the company looking positively "rosy." Evermore has a cat food formula already in the works, as well as two novel protein dog formulas.
"Feeding people’s pets is a huge responsibility—it’s like feeding family members," say Wiener and Mandelbaum. "Most of us feed our pets the same thing day in and day out. If that same thing is going to be Evermore, we better be sure we are providing the most nourishing, healthy and accountable products possible."