Plato Pet Treats was founded in 2006 with the desire to create a product that its co-founders and co-owners, Aaron Merrell, Robert Montgomery, Dana Montgomery and Kent Watts,would want to feed their own pets. The company focused on creating a line of treats with healthy, easy-to-understand ingredients that dogs would vigorously respond to every time they saw the bag. Plato succeeded, and now the thing that sets the company apart, according to Merrell, is the positive response dogs have to Plato’s treats.
Some of that success can be attributed to the production of Plato’s treats: ingredients are natural and locally sourced, and the products are made-in house. “The benefit isn’t just that we are near some of the best meat, vegetable and fruit supplies in the world here in California; the principal benefits are trust and integrity,” says Merrell. “When we say that our treats are made with a particular ingredient, we are able to say that with confidence because we source all of our own ingredients. It’s this control and process management under our roof that allows us to sleep at night.”
Courtesy Plato Pet Treats
Real Strips EOS Turkey dog treats answer the trend of dogs being diagnosed with food sensitivities. EOS treats are grain-free/gluten-free and come in Turkey with Cranberry, Turkey with Sweet Potato and Turkey with Pumpkin varieties.
Plato has seen double-digit growth every year since 2006, but the pace has dramatically increased over the last few years, according to Merrell. The keys to that growth? “Palatability, quality and relationships with key distributors and retailers that align with our principles,” says Merrell. In 2012, Plato relocated its factory to a new, larger location and has since more than tripled its capacity. The company has also made several improvements to its packaging, expanded its sales team and increased marketing efforts. “We’ve also implemented internal controls and made significant capital commitments to ensure product quality inclusive of our own on-site quality control laboratory,” says Merrell.
In some key markets, Plato has grown over 100% in the last year, and the latest quarter has the company on track to exceed the last. Plato has responded to that growth by expanding its offerings. “We’ve introduced our Farmers Market line of grain-free, meat and vegetable treats,” says Merrell. “In addition, we brought to market our new Small Bites, grain-free, soft-moist mini treats that are great for training.”
Courtesy Plato Pet Treats
Small Bites are a new Plato offering: grain-free, soft-moist mini treats suitable for training. Small Bites come in Organic Chicken and Duck varieties.
The company also plans to branch out, offering more than dog treats while maintaining the integrity of its brand. “When we started in 2006 we were ahead of the curve in a lot of respects, but we weren’t ready to create a food line that would match up with our vision for Plato,” says Merrell. “We are planning to expand into cat treats in the near future, and a food line is on under consideration; but we will not produce new products unless they fit our ethos.”
Even with rising commodity prices, a significant unknown that Merrell says can be challenging to plan around, Plato’s outlook is extremely positive. The company is placing a heavy emphasis on both process and new product innovation over the next 12–18 months.
“The industry is headed in a direction where more and more pet food companies are simply marketing companies without clear understanding of product ingredients and lack internal production controls,” says Merrell. “We see this trend continuing, presenting an opportunity for us to stand out in a highly competitive and increasingly crowded market.”
Plato Wags Back: Plato partners with community organizations to give back
In May 2015, Plato Pet Treats officially launched its “Plato Wags Back” program with the mission to champion the love and bond between dogs and people by treating every dog with kindness while enabling them to live a safe and healthy life.
“Our dogs give us so much, and with Plato Pet Treats we give back in return,” says co-founder and co-owner Arron Merrell. “Plato is not just a brand, it's a lifestyle and a belief. It is about making sure that every dog is loved, and at Plato Pet Treats we do just that by making our treats with true love and with Plato Wags Back—whereby every bag sold provides financial support to organizations that feed and house homeless dogs until they find a home. Every bag sold enhances the lives of wounded veterans with disabilities by facilitating pairings with highly trained assistance dogs. And every bag sold fights overpopulation and useless euthanasia while carrying on other charitable activities associated with these goals as allowed by law.”
With the purchase of a bag of Plato Pet Treats, Plato will provide financial and product donations to rescues and shelters across the US. Additionally, throughout 2015, Plato Wags Back will directly aid three California rescue-based organizations—Shelter to Soldier (www.specialtydogtraining.com/shelter-to-soldier), Fresno Bully Rescue (www.fresnobullyrescue.org) and LabsandFriends.org (www.nkla.org/labs-and-friends-rescue)—that either feed and care for homeless dogs or help enhance the lived of veterans who need assistance animals.
“Making a treat with love is not the industry norm because, honestly, it's hard,” says Merrell. “That's why we monitor every inch of every treat's journey. From the careful choosing of our responsibly sourced, all-natural ingredients to our in-house production and conscientious distribution, our sky-high standards are never compromised. The Plato Way, it ensures that every treat that leaves our sight is safe, wag-worthy and wholesome.”
For more information on Plato Wags Back, visit www.platopettreats.com.
Just the Facts
Headquarters: Fresno, California
Facilities: Fresno, California
Officers: Aaron Merrell, Robert (Bob) Montgomery, Dana Montgomery, Kent Watts
Sales: Plato has had significant, double-digit growth every year since 2006, but the pace has picked up dramatically in the last few years. In some key markets the company has grown over 100% in the last year, and the latest quarter is on track to exceed the last.
Brands: Plato Pet Treats
Distribution: North America, Asia, EU
Petfood Industry Top Companies: www.PetfoodIndustry.com/kdr.html
VIDEO: More on Plato Pet Treats
Plato stands out with sourcing, processing at Global Pet Expo 2015: http://goo.gl/wo6WH1
Lindsay Beaton is the editor of Petfood Industry magazine and the host of "Trending: Pet Food," a biweekly pet food industry podcast (www.petfoodindustry.com/trending-pet-food-podcast). You may contact her at www.wattglobalmedia.com/contact-us by selecting "Editorial Team - Petfood Industry" from the drop-down menu.
By Lindsay Beaton
Pet food safety is top-of-mind all along the production line, and everything from the ingredients to the equipment must offer solutions.
By Debbie Phillips-Donaldson
Many hours, efforts, dollars and brainpower go into pet food companies’ and regulatory bodies’ efforts to ensure that products on the market are safe and healthy for pets.