TOP’s Parrot Food expands bird food market opportunities

After being purchased by a new ownership group in 2018, TOP’s Parrot Food has renewed its mission to be known both domestically and internationally as a parrot food manufacturer.

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TOP’s Parrot Food Co-owners Gary Rubin and Kristen Ertischek pose with a few of their brightly colored customers: Ernie the Congo African Grey, Sebastian the Catalina Macaw, Chaco the Blue Front Amazon and Sancho the Green Wing Macaw. | Photo by Pedro Peraza, courtesy TOP’s Parrot Food | Birds courtesy Exotic Bird Rescue of Oregon
TOP’s Parrot Food Co-owners Gary Rubin and Kristen Ertischek pose with a few of their brightly colored customers: Ernie the Congo African Grey, Sebastian the Catalina Macaw, Chaco the Blue Front Amazon and Sancho the Green Wing Macaw. | Photo by Pedro Peraza, courtesy TOP’s Parrot Food | Birds courtesy Exotic Bird Rescue of Oregon

TOP’s Parrot Food has focused on manufacturing pellets, seed mixes and treats for hookbills of all sizes since its founding in 2003, but the last nearly two years have proved to be a true rebirth for the Oregon, USA-based company.

“It's been a whirlwind of activity since our new ownership group purchased the company at the beginning of 2018,” says Gary Rubin, co-owner and chief operating officer for TOP’s. “The first change we made was to undertake a total rebranding effort that revitalized the company's packaging and brought a fresh look to our identity. Now, when customers see our products, they are greeted with an updated, modern brand that is invigorated and friendly. We also set out to expand our product offerings. In the past 12 months we have introduced 14 new SKUs that are all doing well.”

Big changes for TOP’s products

One of the most significant changes TOP’s made to its products is a move that will sound very familiar to the cat and dog food world: The company earned its USDA Organic certification in 2018.

“The investment and commitment we made to earn the certification has put us on a different level than other parrot food brands,” says Rubin. What’s more, “we are proud to say that we are the only USDA Organic Certified company that does not use fillers like peanuts, soy or corn, or any artificial flavors, colors or sugar. There's no reason a bird should eat food with sugar or artificial colors. That makes a big difference with consumers and differentiates us because bird owners read labels just like dog owners and cat owners, perhaps even more so. They want the best for their companions and we are striving to be known as the company that can deliver the healthiest products to them.”


TOP’s Parrot Food products are USDA Organic certified and include pellets, seed mixes and treats. | Photo by Pedro Peraza, courtesy TOP’s Parrot Food

It's a move that has apparently paid off.

“Our sales have gone up every quarter since we purchased the company,” says Rubin. “Overall, revenue doubled in 2018 and is on pace to increase by another 70% in 2019. The biggest example of our growth came in June [2019] when our total number of sales was 10 times greater than the number of sales we had in the first month that we owned TOP's (January 2018). The trajectory is heading higher and we see continued growth in the years ahead as we expand into new markets.”

New markets provide expanded opportunities

TOP’s has been making big plans for international expansion, as well as increasing its overall market share through brand awareness across the board.

“The biggest opportunity we have is to grow the brand and get discovered by more bird owners,” says Rubin. “There are still millions of parrot owners who are just now finding out about our organic products and we take every interaction seriously. TOP's has customers around the world and we hear from them all the time on social media and email. It's not uncommon to help a customer in Europe find a local distributor, then hear from someone in the Middle East who wants to buy our products, and then answer a question from an Australian customer. We're a 24/7 company now.”

That 24/7 willingness has continued to open doors, according to Rubin.

“In the past 18 months, we have brought on new partners in South Korea, Australia, Mexico, China, South Africa, Poland, Bulgaria, Spain and Portugal,” he says. “We've also worked with existing customers in the United Kingdom, Taiwan, Japan and Canada to expand our presence and bulk up their support of our products. We're now on five continents and are currently having active discussions about entering South America.”

In those same 18 months, the company has already had to move to a larger warehouse and production space to keep up with demand and stay on track with projected growth.


TOP’s pellet line has expanded to include large, small and mini sizes, made with all organic ingredients from the United States, and the line does not contain any fillers, artificial colors, flavors, preservatives or sugar. | Courtesy TOP’s Parrot Food

“TOP's Parrot Food is completely different than it was two years ago,” says Rubin. “The new ownership team changed everything from the ground up. Sometimes we feel like a 16-year-old startup because we have launched initiatives like a new website, social media strategies, supply chain efficiency and new shipping protocols that didn't exist when we purchased the company. It's been nonstop but the results are heading in the right direction.”

Reaching the right audience

TOP’s has made significant strides in growing its domestic market share as well, increasing consumer recognition in the U.S. and being more present and available to interact with bird owners. Marketing efforts include search advertising, social media (see web box, “How pet food companies can succeed in social media”) and other public relations opportunities, and those efforts have increased the number of direct customers the company has by nearly 1000%.

Trends in the bird food world are quite similar to those in the dog and cat food world, according to Rubin.

“We see pet food overall, and parrot food in particular, following the human food trends toward wellness and healthier eating habits,” he says. “Our customers want the very best for their birds. Our surveys show that most bird owners own three or more birds, so they are feeding multiple mouths and are moving away from all seed diets or unhealthy ingredients.”

Overall, says Rubin, the future of parrot food looks as bright as any segment of the pet food industry.

“Our entire team is excited about the future of the company,” he says. “We've owned the business for less than 24 months and seeing what is possible is very encouraging. We feel we've only scratched the surface and are on the cusp of even bigger growth. Sometimes we can just feel the momentum and it's thrilling to look back and see how far we've come and look ahead to where we're headed.”


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