In April 2017, PetSmart announced its' plan to acquire Chewy, an online pet foods, treats and products retailer, which led Tuffy’s Pet Foods to stop offering their products — NutriSource, Pure Vita and Natural Planet brands — on the website.
“While we have respect for the success and growth witnessed by the large and mass retailers they do not fall within the channels we choose to support with our product and marketing plans,” said Tuffy’s executives in the press release. “It is our strong intent to continue with our current marketing plan focused on the independent specialty retailers and family owned businesses.”
Now, two more heavy hitters in the pet food category have followed Tuffy’s lead.
On July 10, 2017, Champion released the following statement on its Facebook page:
“Unfortunately, it’s true – our foods are no longer available through Chewy… For more than 25 years, we’ve been committed to the pet specialty channel. We choose to work exclusively with pet specialists who have intimate knowledge of our foods and are committed to providing expert advice to Pet Lovers.
Chewy has been a longtime retail partner and we’ve enjoyed our association with them. However, due to their recent acquisition, Chewy no longer meets our pet specialty requirement to be an Approved ACANA and ORIJEN Retailer."
That same day, the Fromm Facebook page posted a statement that included the following:
“Fromm Family Foods is 5th generation family owned-and-operated company with a long history of selling our products exclusively to independent pet retailers. Fromm believes our products are best sold by retailers who know our product and can offer pet parents what’s right for their specific dog or cat. As a result of Chewy’s sale to PetSmart, they are no longer an authorized retailer of Fromm Products.”
Similar to Fromm and Champion, Tuffy’s executives stated that the company would continue with their current marketing plan focused on the independent specialty retailers and family owned businesses.
Champion and Fromm have yet to see if their decision will be beneficial, but the future is hopeful, as Tuffy’s move worked out well for the company.
“We have received calls, emails and social media interaction that have been very positive,” Dan Schmitz, national sales manager for KLN Brands told Petfood Industry in May 2017. KLN owns Tuffy’s Pet Foods. “Both retailers and pet parents have expressed that this was a very positive move for our company,” said Schmitz.
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.
Constraints and crises, like those experienced in 2020, help drive innovation and sustainability offers context.