The founders of Pet Promise didn't start out to form a petfood company. "We are a mission-based company that's dedicated to educating consumers on ingredient quality and where their ingredients come from," explains Dave Carter, co-founder of the company. "Our mission led us to establish a brand based on source-verified protein coming from US family farmers." So Carter and his fellow co-founders, Anthony Zolezzi and Myron Lyscanycz, set out to help farmers and ranchers committed to quality, sustainability standards and the humane treatment of animals.
To help support these struggling US farmers and ranchers, they conceived an idea to make a natural petfood with exceptional nutrition that comes from pure protein sources. "We aren't just a petfood but part of the natural foods movement," says Julie Mueller, vice president of marketing. "We are a mission-based company. That's how our brand started and is why we exist today."
A formulation for trust
Unlike many companies on the market today, Pet Promise describes its products based on what isn't in its formulations. "An educated consumer is our biggest opportunity," attests Carter. "As people become more interested in what is going on their plates, they want to know what they are feeding every member of their family-including their pets."
From the outset, the petfood manufacturer made a commitment to "let by-products be bygones" (its slogan). That meant eliminating the rendered proteins that have supplied the foundation for commercial petfoods for decades. "One of the most difficult challenges is that because of our high standards for ingredients, we have to work with smaller suppliers and develop strong relationships," says Carter. "They are not always easy to find and you have to work with them on a much longer term basis."
Because of this new approach to pet nutrition, the company selected each ingredient according to the attributes it would provide for its formulations.
- Natural meat, poultry or fish as the lead ingredient in every product;
- Brewer's rice for its highly digestible carbohydrate qualities;
- Corn gluten meal, which is high in the amino acid methionine;
- Egg product, high in lysine and linoleic acid;
- Oatmeal, provides energy from carbohydrates & protein;
- Pearled barley for its soluble fiber; and
- Soy flour, which is high in lysine and tryptophan.
This past year Pet Promise introduced Large Dog Health for large dogs that have unique nutritional needs, according to the company. The formula contains a natural source of glucosamine that helps support joint health and mobility. Shipments of five new wet items (three cat and two dog) to increase flavor offerings also started at the end of January 2008.
Promise of purity
Mueller describes the company's key to growth as, "Attracting new users to our brand by our Promise of Purity' message and excellent product performance. Once consumers try our products, they tend to be very loyal." This vow means consumers know where their protein is coming from-Promise wants to be known for leading the way in source verification-and other guarantees, such as:
- No animal by-products such as lungs, spleens, brains, blood, beaks, feet and feathers;
- No added growth hormones;
- No antibiotic-fed protein;
- No rendered meats such as beef, chicken or by-product meals;
- No factory-farm meat or poultry; and
- No artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.
The company's commitment to US sourced and hormone-free ingredients is not only serious, but serious business. "We are very proud that we quickly became and continue to be the #1 brand in the natural channel," says Mueller.
Looking to the future, naturally
"The overall momentum of natural petfood continues to grow and the interest among retailers grows, allowing Pet Promise to expand into pet specialty," says Mueller, predicting what she sees in Pet Promise's future. "But it is because of our strong interest from the natural products consumers that made this trend possible."
What about the entire petfood industry? "It's an industry in transition. The petfood industry was developed under a model of disposing of waste products and developed in a time when people looked at pets much differently than they do today," comments Carter. "Now that pets are becoming an important part of families, people are becoming more concerned about the health of their animals, and the petfood industry will need to respond."