Tuffy’s Pet Foods: Understanding the human side of pet food

Staying on top of human food trends can provide significant advantages in the pet food space.

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Tuffy’s expansion in the pet food space has a lot to do with the company seeing opportunities and taking advantage of its strengths. | Photo by Tuffy’s Pet Foods
Tuffy’s expansion in the pet food space has a lot to do with the company seeing opportunities and taking advantage of its strengths. | Photo by Tuffy’s Pet Foods

Tuffy’s Pet Foods is part of a larger entity, KLN Family Brands, that does business in both the pet and human food spaces. This gives the company a leg up when it comes to staying on top of pet food trends.

“What is popular or being focused on in human foods today is relatable to pet foods tomorrow,” says Charlie Nelson, president of Tuffy’s. “We’re looking at supplements and unique ingredients that keep us on the cutting edge. So I think there’s an advantage to being close to that other piece of the industry, the human side.”

Knowledge of that human side also allows Tuffy’s to make decisions based on a key piece of information: “We understand a furry family member is every bit as important as any family member,” says Nelson. “So, we’re committed to safety and the future.”

When Tuffy’s was re-purchased in 2001 after being sold years before when Nelson’s grandfather retired, Nelson said the company had to make a decision.

“We knew we were either going to be in or out [of the pet food industry],” he says. “We love the industry and the people in it. We were all in. So we needed to make that initial investment.”

That led to the building of a new, state-of-the-art production and office facility in 2015, totaling 600,000 square feet and made for manufacturing dry and semi-moist dog and cat foods. The company has also turned its eye towards the potential of a canning facility. “The cannery is something we are very interested in for expanding our product line, and we think there’s an opportunity in that wet space,” says Nelson. “We aren’t sure where that’s going to be or what it’s going to look like, but we have 40 salespeople on the street, and we have awesome retailers that support us and are wanting us to expand in that area, so we certainly see it as an opportunity.

“We’re not done,” he says. “We’re working closer than ever with local farmers and growers, starting to buy ingredients a little more directly.”

 

For the full companion article, " Tuffy’s Pet Foods: retail partnerships key to success,” published in the February 2018 issue of Petfood Industry magazine, see www.PetfoodIndustry.com/articles/6873.

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