For Garth Merrick, founder of Merrick Pet Care Inc., the definition of a family-owned company means getting his family and friends involved and bringing the company home with him. Together with his wife, Susie, and their four children, Garth built the company around their home in Hereford, Texas, USA. Today, the company Garth founded in 1968 has grown to become a leader in the superpremium petfood category. Its mission is to create the most nutritious and wholesome food that it can, to help families take better care of their pets. According to Garth, that clarity of purpose has helped drive them from the beginning. “The secret to our products is the simplistic approach we take in making them,” Garth says. “We use the fewest steps we can. We retain as many of the natural benefits as we can by staying away from artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. We believe this approach keeps our petfood popular with our customers—and most importantly, their pets. We’ve been doing that since the beginning, and we’ll continue to do that in the future.”
For the past several years the company has been reinventing its recipes after collecting the latest nutrition research, reviewing farmers and suppliers, and conducting quality assurance with its expert panel of dog taste-testers, according to Merrick. In 2012, the result of that effort is a “revolution in a dog bowl,” a mission to take the whole offering of recipes to the highest standards of nutritional excellence. The company is doing this with 11 new recipes made with real whole food. Merrick introduced the reinvented recipes under the Classic and Grain Free brands and built them off five key promises that represent the company's commitment to better food for pets:
- Local growers: Ingredients grown by local farmers not only support local communities but also ensure freshness and food safety, claims Merrick.
- Nutritious, real whole foods: No artificial additives, sweeteners, colorings or preservatives are used. No glutens are used in grain-free recipes. No ingredients from China are used.
- Balanced nutrition: Recipes have 30- to 38% proteins from meat, poultry and fish ingredients, plus veggies, whole grains and fruit.
- Health you can see: Industry-leading levels of protein, healthy fats, glucosamine and chondroitin, and highly digestible meat proteins.
- Cooked in Merrick’s own kitchens: Cooked in small batches in the company’s Hereford, Texas, kitchens.
In 2012, Merrick Pet Care signed an agreement to acquire Castor & Pollux Natural PetWorks, a privately held natural and organic petfood business based in Clackamas, Oregon, USA, in order to expand further into the superpremium petfood segment. "Our kitchens are organically certified by the USDA National Organic Program and organic certifying agency Oregon Tilth," says Greg Shearson, CEO of Merrick. Currently, Merrick is the only certified manufacturer for both dry and canned food for pets, according to the company. The organic certification was awarded by Oregon Tilth following a rigorous examination of Merrick’s supply chain, ingredient suppliers, manufacturing facilities and system processes. In order to maintain this distinction, Castor & Pollux Organix must continue to adhere to the strictest definitions of organic as outlined by the National Organic Program, including future audits.
"We want pet parents to pay more attention to what they are feeding their dogs, which is why we've started a real food revolution—a revolution in a dog bowl—with recipes that provide balanced nutrition and health you can see in your dog," explains Shearson, when describing Merrick's recent dog food revolution marketing campaign. "We think it's important for everybody to feed their pets this way, giving them what we say is 'food worthy of a fork'." The Doggupy protest we initiated in New York City and as part of their revolution, Merrick also made a major food donation (250,000 bowls of dog food) to the Mayor's Alliance of NYC's Animals.