Addiction Foods is a New Zealand-based ultra-premium pet food company founded in 2002 with the goal of providing products that contain no byproducts, fillers or preservatives, while utilizing premium protein sources to prevent allergies and address other nutritional needs.
In addition to creating its own brands, Addiction has a private label division — which provides significant opportunity for the company’s continued success. Addiction is New Zealand’s largest dry food manufacturer and is accredited to export all proteins to China, a top-growing market in the pet food industry. Thanks to New Zealand’s free-trade agreement with China, brands looking to Addiction because of their private label business have the opportunity to enter the Chinese market.
The benefits of international market access
“Access to China is such a key advantage for Addiction, as we are the solution for brands interested in the market,” says company Founder and CEO Jerel Kwek. “Without Addiction many brands would have no option to penetrate this key market. The current trade situation with the U.S. and China also puts a major roadblock in place, for which Addiction is the solution.”
According to Kwek, Addiction’s accreditation leaves the company uniquely poised to give brands access to not only China, but other neighboring Asian countries. Addiction also exports from New Zealand to the U.S. market for its own brands and is able to offer its private label customers that ability, as well.
“Our key to growth is market access, innovation in process and product development, and our investment in our marketing and sales efforts,” says Kwek. “Market access has proven to be the most crucial key to growth for our brands and our private label partners.”
Strong growth provides further opportunities for expansion
The ease of market access Addiction can provide has meant significant growth for the company, and that growth has opened even more doors.
“Addiction continues to grow very strongly with a 40% growth every year over the past four years,” says Kwek. “We are able to support our partners in their growth journey as they expand their market internationally. We have embarked on multi-million-dollar facility upgrade to increase capacity tenfold, and are employing the latest technology and robotics to improve efficiency. We have secured traditional and cross-border e-commerce access in China, giving our private label customers a distinct advantage.
“Along with our growth, we have continued investing in our technology, people and processes. We have upgraded our equipment and deployed innovative technology to track company and quality performance, and we have hired additional animal nutritionists and food technologists to strengthen our R&D team,” he says.
Addiction offers foods with novel proteins including venison, rabbit, goat, turkey and brushtail (a type of possum). The company’s low-temperature processing capabilities offer foods that have improved the retention of key nutritional elements, and recently Addiction launched a new co-extruded treats line that can produce all-natural treats in innovative shapes.
Responding to market challenges and looking to the future
Kwek says the company is being kept on its toes by international market changes and expansion, which means constantly keeping up with various consumer demands and country import requirements.
Addiction Foods’ Wishbone line focuses on an artisanal experience for pets, and formulas include all-natural, highly digestible, free-range meat mixed with antioxidant-rich fruits, vegetables and herbs. | Courtesy Addiction Foods
“It is a very competitive, vibrant and exciting industry but also challenging with the intense level of competition and entry of new brands,” says Kwek. “Humanization of pets is at an all-time high. Safety standards continue to be in the forefront of customers’ and regulators’ minds. Sourcing of quality ingredients, be it animal or plant-based, and how they were sourced are major considerations for customers. Product innovation is also on the rise with personalized pet food. It’s really very dynamic.”
In spite of the challenges, or perhaps because of the company’s ongoing ability to meet them, Addiction’s future looks to be a positive one.
“Our outlook is fantastic; we have an excellent sales pipeline with a full order book,” says Kwek. “As more businesses seek private label partnerships, we have been able to increase capacity to meet demand. Our new innovative treats line is a great example of our ability to listen to our customers to meet their product development needs.”
And while there are certainly plenty of trends to keep an eye on, Addiction feels primed to provide an answer to anything that comes along.
“We predict that pet food in general will continue to cater to the premiumization and humanization of pets,” says Kwek. “It is likely that specialty diets that are close-to-homemade will continue to see increased demand. This will likely include products (like our air-dried product) that require a bit of preparation by adding water to create a standalone meal or a food topper. It is likely that treats will continue to lean toward indulgent yet healthier options.”
As for international trade, Addiction plans to continue providing access for its customers.
“The current trade tensions between the U.S. and China create uncertainty for pet food exporters from the USA,” says Kwek. “As for the Chinese market, we are confident the growing middle class and premiumization of pet food will continue to make this the most important market to focus on for years to come.”
Headquarters: New Zealand (facilities); Kent, Washington, USA (North America)
Officers: Jerel Kwek, founder and CEO
Brands: Addiction, Awesome Pawsome, Wishbone, private label
Website/Social Media: www.addictionfoods.com, www.wishbonepet.com; AddictionPetFoods and WishbonePetFoods on Facebook
Notable: New Zealand has an “A” ranking from The World Animal Protection Index for its humane treatment of animals, making it a prime place to source wild or free-range meats raised in a stress-free environment.