Open Farm pet food prioritizes animals, the environment

Through the platforms of premium nutrition, ethical sourcing and transparency, Open Farm deeply reaches its customers and its consumers.

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Open Farm co-founders Derek Beigleman, Jacqueline Prehogan and Isaac Langleben, here with Golden Retriever mix Molly and Puggle Bella, wants to lead the pet food industry towards sustainability by changing the way pet food is sourced and produced. | (Courtesy Open Farm)
Open Farm co-founders Derek Beigleman, Jacqueline Prehogan and Isaac Langleben, here with Golden Retriever mix Molly and Puggle Bella, wants to lead the pet food industry towards sustainability by changing the way pet food is sourced and produced. | (Courtesy Open Farm)

In 2014, Isaac Langleben, Derek Beigleman and Jacqueline Prehogan decided there was a gap in the pet food industry that needed filling. With a focus on exacting ethical standards (in the key areas of ingredient sourcing, sustainability and traceability) and premium nutrition, the three co-founded Toronto, Canada-based Open Farm. Six years later the company has grown to more than 40 employees, and operations to serve pet parents through more than 5,000 storefronts and direct-to-consumer at Open Farm’s website.

Open Farm believes that great nutrition is rooted in the integrity of ingredients,” says Langleben, who is also the company’s CEO. “Our mission is to create recipes that pet parents love because they are made with clean, nutritious whole foods and produced in a way that respects animal welfare and the environment. Open Farm works exclusively with farmers who share our commitment to exceptional quality and sustainable practices, which enables us to make better food for pets while also doing good for family farms, farm animals and the planet.”

Open Farm has seen cumulative annual growth of more than 100% year-over-year since its founding, according to Langleben, and has grown its customer options from three kibble formulas to over 100 SKUs in seven different product categories — all while maintaining the company’s desire to “do some good.”

The pillars of Open Farm pet food

“Using our business as a platform for positive change is very important to us,” says Langleben. “It is a priority. Open Farm’s mission is rooted in ethical sourcing, with a focus on animal welfare, sustainability and transparency. We are deeply committed to making sure that our products are kind to animals, people and the planet.”

Personalization and premium nutrition are key to attracting pet owners, and Open Farm meets those desires with wet and dry food options, grain-free and grain-inclusive formulas, treats, and supplements, all with wholesome ingredients and no added flavors, preservatives or fillers.

“By providing many different options, we offer tailored nutrition for all unique dietary needs and stages of life,” says Langleben.

But the company’s ethics are where Open Farm really has a chance to shine among its competitors.  

“We partner with family farms who raise their animals with kindness and respect and are from Certified Humane or Global Animal Partnership (GAP) audited farms, leading to higher-quality ingredients that deliver better nutrition,” says Langleben. “Open Farm sourced 2.3 million pounds of Certified Humane and GAP Certified meat in 2019 and is on track to source 3 million pounds this year — a 30.4% increase in demand.”

In addition to those partnerships, Open Farm has connected with Ocean Wise to employ sustainable fishing methods that minimize bycatch (when other marine animals are unintentionally caught while fishing for a target species) and help preserve the oceans.

Traceability is becoming a significant desire among pet owners looking to know exactly what they’re feeding their pets, and Open Farm has come up with a solution: complete origin transparency.

Open Farm is the first fully traceable pet food brand that allows consumers to instantly trace the origin of every ingredient in their bag,” says Langleben. “On the Open Farm website, customers can trace ingredients by simply entering a code found on every package of Open Farm pet food. We all deserve to know where our food is coming from and that it is sourced from suppliers we can trust.” Open Farm is constantly looking to formulate foods that meet these standards and has found success in multiple arenas. In August 2019, the company launched a new line of dry dog foods with ancient grains in order to give dog owners who are seeking a grain-inclusive option a premium offering .

“Our line of ancient grains recipes is available in all the popular formulas that we offer grain free and adheres to our stringent sourcing standards using non-GMO, gluten-free grains like oats, quinoa and chia seeds,” says Langleben.

The company also recently introduced new gently cooked recipes for dogs, which are home cooked and 100% human grade, made from humanely raised ingredients and superfoods.

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Open Farm’s new gently cooked recipes include four options made with human-grade ingredients: Homestead Turkey, Grass-fed Beef, Harvest Chicken and Surf & Turf. | Courtesy Open Farm

“Our gently cooked recipes are prepared sous vide-style for optimal taste and nutrition retention,” says Langleben. “This is a great way to add fresh, healthy food to a pet’s diet to optimize their nutrition.”

COVID-19 and the evolution of e-commerce in pet food

As with nearly every industry in the world, pet food has seen a significant uptick in e-commerce since the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020. It has affected everyone including Open Farm, which already had an e-commerce platform but has seen that outlet grow in recent months.

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen significant increases in shopping online and think the role of e-commerce in our business has changed,” says Langleben. “Many people who may have been hesitant to order pet food online before didn’t have any other choice. We expect e-commerce to be an ever-growing channel and expect permanent changes to customer shopping behavior … with digital experiences also playing an even larger role in product discovery and education. In brick and mortar, retailers who provide their customers with great service, unique products and seamless shopping experiences — online, in-store or at curbside — will continue to win and put pressure on slower-moving, less sophisticated competitors. These trends were already in motion, but COVID-19 has accelerated them and there is likely no turning back.”

Open Farm has even combined its pillar of sustainability with e-commerce, expanding its partnership with TerraCycle (a company that aims to eliminate waste via free recycling programs funded by brands, manufacturers and retailers around the world to help consumers collect and recycle hard-to-recycle items) to include Loop, a circular e-commerce platform from TerraCycle that allows consumers to buy products they already use in zero-waste packaging.

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In partnership with TerraCycle’s Loop e-commerce platform, Open Farm’s freeze-dried raw formulas are available for purchase in zero-waste, reusable containers. | Courtesy Open Farm

“In July 2020, Open Farm became the first pet food available in the Loop Store,” says Langleben. “The new partnership introduces consumers to reusable, refillable packaging as part of Open Farm’s ongoing effort to positively impact the environment and reduce the use of single-use packaging and disposable waste. Customers can purchase Open Farm freeze-dried raw food in reusable packaging through Loop’s website.”

Looking to the future

2020 will no doubt go down as one of the most economically challenging years for everyone in recent memory, but Open Farm’s course remains the same.

“We’ve seen that the pet industry largely follows human trends from a wellness perspective,” says Langleben. “Like their own health, we’ve seen pet parents increasingly want to be more values-driven and conscious of where their pet food comes from and what nutritional benefits they have. What we see across age and demographic data is that people love pets and want to buy them food that’s good for them.

Open Farm’s goal is to build an iconic brand and bring our mission to a mass audience,” he says. “We believe in what we’re doing, and we aim to be a brand pet parents can trust with the health of their pet and to make a positive impact on our planet. People are looking for ways they can do better and Open Farm offers them that. We are constantly evaluating our supply chain and finding areas where we can improve and keep challenging the industry.”

 

Fast Facts

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Headquarters: Toronto, Canada

Officers: Isaac Langleben, co-founder and CEO; Derek Beigleman, co-founder and COO; Jacqueline Prehogan, co-founder

Brands: Open Farm

Website/Social Media: www.openfarmpet.com, @openfarmpet on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Notable: Open Farm is a family-run business: Jacqueline Prehogan is married to Isaac Langleben and Derek Beigleman is her brother-in-law. A lot of people have told the co-founders that they could never work with family (especially spouses), but Open Farm wouldn’t have it any other way!

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