Purina uses transparency, technology to stay agile

As the second largest pet food company on Earth, Purina brings extensive resources to bear in their own labs and research facilities.

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Courtesy of Nestlé Purina PetCare
Courtesy of Nestlé Purina PetCare

Building on a century in the pet food industry, Nestlé Purina PetCare aims to stay agile and innovative by staying at the forefront of nutritional science, technology and consumer demands for transparency. At the same time, Purina pushes for more pet inclusivity in workplaces and public locations, while helping various animal welfare and sustainability causes.

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Nina Leigh Krueger, president, Nestle Purina PetCare | Courtesy of Nestlé Purina PetCare

“It’s a great time to be in the pet care category — never before has the business been so dynamic,” said Nina Leigh Krueger, president, Nestlé Purina PetCare. “We are truly at a unique time in our business where movement and opportunity is everywhere.”

Purina PetCare and companion animal science

One way Purina seizes those opportunities in today’s pet food market is by looking to technology and research to find tomorrow’s breakthroughs in nutrition and animal well-being. As the second-largest pet food company on Earth, Purina brings extensive resources to bear in their own labs and research facilities.

Purina cover PetsAtWork

The Nestlé Purina PetCare headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri, USA. | Courtesy of Nestlé Purina PetCare

“Purina invests in discovering scientifically based breakthroughs that will change pet’s lives and help them live longer healthier lives with us,” said Krueger. “This takes time, and in some cases, a decade or more to research before a product is introduced to market. Not all pet food companies are willing to make these investments because it takes patience and a significant commitment of resources. Globally, we have more than 500 pet nutritionists, behaviorists, immunologists and veterinarians, as well as other pet care specialists on staff, which really demonstrates our commitment to understanding pets."

“Consumers will do their research to really understand the purpose of each ingredient and formula, but it’s easy to fall for rumors and myths,” said Krueger.

Ultimately, that research pays off with new products that deliver a visible benefit to owners dogs and cats, such as Purina Pro Plan Bright Mind dog food, which they introduced in 2015, that uses a special ingredient to improve cognition and mental sharpness in dogs aged 7 and older, she said.

“Within 30 days of feeding this food, pet owners are seeing notable cognitive improvements in their dogs,” she said. “In fact, I feed Pro Plan Bright Mind to my Golden Retriever Bailey, and I’ve seen the improvements myself first-hand.”

Purina Bright Mind dog food

Purina ProPlan Bright Mind Adult formula dog food | Courtesy of Nestlé Purina PetCare

Purina’s headquarters is located in St. Louis, Missouri, USA, the Show-Me state, which fits, since seeing is believing for modern pet owners. Dog and cat parents don’t just take a brand’s word for it when considering the merits of a particular product or ingredient. Easy access to information on the internet allows many pet owners to do their own sleuthing about pet foods. That can also mean exposure to misinformation and fearmongering bloggers.

“Consumers will do their research to really understand the purpose of each ingredient and formula, but it’s easy to fall for rumors and myths,” said Krueger. “That’s why at Purina, we continue to support consumers in their desire to understand the positive differences our foods can make in the lives of their pets … We recognize that pet owners want to know what they are feeding their pet, why each ingredient is in a food, where their food is being made (and by whom) and the science that backs up each claim that a manufacturer is making. Purina is committed to being more transparent, and we challenge others in the industry to do the same.”

Brand loyalty in the age of pet food e-commerce

As more consumers buy their pet food online, brands have fewer opportunities to impress pet owners with packaging, displays or shelf space dominance. At the same time, pet owners are shedding brand loyalty, especially millennials.

“Pet owners have an overwhelming number of choices when it comes to pet care, with new products hitting the market all the time,” said Krueger. “For some pet owners, variety is key, others are driven by price, and many are looking for pet foods that align with their own food philosophies, which can shift and change. So it’s easy to understand why a pet owner would shop around and be drawn to new foods and treats, which can decrease loyalty.

“No matter what drives pet owners toward a specific choice in brand or product, we share a common desire, which is to help their pets live longer healthier lives with them,” she said.

To earn consumers’ trust and thereby repeat business, Purina strives to make pet foods of consistent quality across all of their brands, she said. To meet demands for novelty and changing nutritional philosophies, Purina constantly evolves through innovation to offer pet owners more and better choices.

“As a team, we’ve accelerated our speed to market making new products available sooner and reformulating existing products faster without comprising our commitment to quality and scientifically based nutrition,” Krueger said.

New products from Purina PetCare

Some examples of those choices that Purina has recently added to the pet food market include:

  • Purina Pro Plan formulations addressing a variety of health challenges faced by pets including obesity, digestive issues, physical aging and seizures.
  • Additions to the Beneful brand including a shelf-stable tender offering called Simple Goodness and Beneful Select 10, which is made with 10 purposeful ingredients — with farm-raised beef as the first ingredient, plus vitamins and minerals.

Purina working to improve life for all animals, humans included

While developing and producing pet food remains Purina’s primary goal, the company also seeks to enact beneficial changes in both the local St. Louis community and around the world.

“In the past several years, we’ve built incredible partnerships that are allowing pets into more places in our society,” Krueger said. “From domestic violence shelters to hospitals, we know that pets offer love, relieve stress and help people heal in a variety of circumstances. Our work with the PALS (People and Animals Living Safely) program through the Urban Resource Institute in New York City is opening doors, literally, for pets in domestic violence shelters. And we recently worked with Children’s Hospital in St. Louis to design and open the Purina Family Pet Center, which allows children to visit with their own pets during lengthy hospital stays.”

Purina continues to work with organizations like Tony LaRussa’s Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF) and North Shore Animal League. These organizations help to change people’s perceptions of shelter pets by training the animals to be service pets for veterans or help children learn valuable social and emotional life skills through educational programs.

“In addition to our efforts to positively impact society through pets, I’m proud of our ongoing work in sustainability,” said Krueger. “We recognize our role in caring for the planet to ensure people and pets share a healthy world tomorrow and are working hard within Purina and with partners like Ducks Unlimited and the Nature Conservancy to make a positive impact from many angles.

“Our sustainability initiatives encompass the full life cycle of our products, which means everything from sourcing ingredients responsibly, reducing energy, water and waste from our operations, optimizing our packaging and practicing highly efficient transporting methods,” she said. “We’ve made good progress in each of these areas. For example, 75 percent of our manufacturing facilities are zero waste to landfill, and we’ll reach 100 percent by 2020.”

The future of Purina PetCare

Sustainability helps ensure that the humans and their pets will enjoy the same living standards in the future that we enjoy now. While working to ensure that bright future through environmental responsibility, Purina also has plans for their own future.

“Purina is built on a solid foundation of, first and foremost, doing the right thing for pets and pet owners, and that will continue to guide our future actions,” Krueger said. “Nestle is committed to continued growth of Purina and investment in our business.”

For example, Purina recently opened a facility in Georgia, the company’s 21st production facility in the U.S. The location is now used for distribution. In 2019, when production begins at that plant, it likely will produce pet foods that align with Krueger’s predictions for the future of the industry.

“Pet owners will likely continue to gravitate toward products that promote and support health and wellness and offer some amount of tailoring to their individual pet’s dietary needs and taste preferences,” she said. “This will likely lead to continued growth in the natural category for pet food and an increased need for transparency from everyone in the industry.

“Over the past 90-plus years, our incredible team has made discoveries that have changed the way not only we, but the category, understands pets and the bond that we share, and brought many life-changing nutritional innovations to bear that are helping dogs and cats live longer and healthier lives,” Krueger said. “But our work is never done, and I can confidently say that the best is yet to come.”

 

Just the Facts

Purina logo

Headquarters: St. Louis, Missouri, USA

Facilities: 20 manufacturing facilities in the U.S.

Officers: Joe Sivewright, CEO; Nina Leigh Krueger, president

Sales: US$9.2 billion 2017 sales in the Americas (U.S., Canada and Latin America)

Brands: Purina Pro Plan, Purina ONE, Purina Beyond, Alpo, Beggin, Bella, Beneful, Busy, Cat Chow, Dog Chow, Fancy Feast, Friskies, Mighty Dog, Moist and Meaty, Muse, Tidy Cats and Waggin’ Train, Yesterday’s News

Distribution: AOC, pet specialty, grocery and e-commerce channels 

Employees:  More than 8,000 associates in the U.S.

Website:  www.purina.com

 

Learn more about Nestlé Purina PetCare in our Top Companies database: https://bit.ly/2NIM5fG 

 

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