As leaders in the pet food packaging business, we follow what is happening in our industry and just the other day something substantial transpired that could cause shock waves for many years to come. J.M. Smucker, based in Orville, Ohio, just announced an agreement to buy Big Heart Pet Brands one of the leaders in the industry for $3.2 billion dollars. Formerly known as Del Monte Corporation, a few of the well-known brands are Milk Bone and Meow Mix, among others. But why would a company in the food business and centered on breakfast and lunch items (Dunkin Donuts coffee, Folgers, Jif peanut butter, and of course Smuckers jelly) buy their way into the pet food world? Money and market penetration silly! The same companies that buy their breakfast and lunch products also buy pet supplies, so this gives Smuckers even more leverage. It is forecasted that sales in US dollars of pet food products will exceed $21 billion dollars in 2015.
We are fortunate to work with many established companies in this industry and have found that there are some definite keys and clues that Milk Bone and Meow Mix do on a regular basis with their pet food packaging that can help you and your company. Want to know how to build your pet food brand the way Big Heart Pet Brands has done? We can only speak of our niche in the industry, which is flexible retail packaging, (the rest is up to you…ingredients, flavors, etc) and we are happy to share it with you now.
Here are 6 things to consider regarding pet food packaging and flexible retail packaging that can help you build your brand (and maybe catch the attention of Smuckers!)
Flexible retail packaging is made from layers of engineered barrier film that are laminated together to create the styles, sizes and barrier properties needed to protect the contents while allowing the pouches to stand up and stand out on store shelves. Styles include stand up pouches, flat bottom box bags, and even spouted stand up bags for liquids. Flexible retail packaging can make or break your brand and success on store shelves. Using the right supplier and design can vault you to new heights and the wrong one can doom you to failure.
6 Keys You Need From Your Pet Food Packaging Company
- The right supplier will have multiple factories; especially if you want to learn how to build your pet food brand in North America. In the US, pet food packaging companies generally start out small and this means finding a flexible retail packaging supplier that can run small volume yet do so with stellar quality so you can ship with confidence. If your packaging doesn’t protect your product and it goes rancid or stale and not the flavor and texture that you intended, forget it, this isn’t going to end well for your firm. Then, as your business grows, you’ll be forced to find efficiencies and cost savings knowing that Walmart, Sam’s Club, and larger grocery chains want aggressive pricing and you packaging costs must be in line. Final Point: your supplier needs to have the ability to run small volume and scale with you as your business expands…often this is accomplished with different plants. Further, your supplier needs to be prepared if there is ever a problem with one they can move to another.
- Printing capability. Having the right color combinations and graphic design for your printed flexible packaging is what will make your product stand out and get a consumer to take notice. Remember, you have one shot to make a good first impression and your packaging must do that for you. The right supplier should be able to print 10-12 colors (that is what is needed to create photographic quality images that POP at retail). Many domestic-US suppliers print flexographically however overseas print using the rotogravure printing method. Final Point: Both are fine however rotogravure is the industry standard and has been where the industry is headed.
- I know everyone talks about quality but you must do your homework to find the right supplier who believes in it as much as you do. Your business depends on it. Do they have the right quality certifications such as ISO 9000 and ISO 14000? Can they show you not just the documentation but the certification number that you can trace to be sure (many just show people pictures of an ISO 9000 certificate!)? Do they use FDA food grade material, water based inks (not solvent based), and BPA free? Will they send you samples and even offer to use an Independent Lab to show you their quality? Final Point: everyone talks about quality; find a supplier that will prove it. Visit their factory, see their samples, talk to other clients, etc. Many suppliers will shop your business to the cheapest plant they can find (like someone they found on Alibaba to maximize their profits)…don’t fall for this, demand better!
- Sell more and faster. Your supplier should not just provide you with printed flexible retail packaging, they should help promote your products and company and give you the tools and support you need when you need new styles and designs. Final Point: You are in the pet food business, not the flexible retail packaging business. Trust a company that will be your trusted partner, not just another supplier.
- Domestic shipping in the US isn’t an issue; however shipping from overseas factories to the US is an entirely different story that can be complex, confusing, and without the right guidance and support extremely frustrating and expensive. Final Point: The right supplier will support your efforts and will work to make this very simple.
- Supply chain. Supply chain is the cherry on top if you want to learn how to build your pet supply brand. Having the right packaging and colors and designs is great but you must have your flexible retail packaging when you need it and where you need it, no excuses. If you have contract manufacturers in different locations and then contract packagers and distribution facilities, the right packaging company can coordinate all of these things and assure that you have what you need when you need it. Final Point: If your supplier cannot or won’t provide supply chain solutions…find another supplier!
In closing, Smuckers buying into the pet food business should be a wake-up call to any other company in the industry. They bought established brands that use flexible retail packaging to not only protect their product but promote their company. These 6 keys should help you compete with Smuckers and any other company for that matter. Remember, it’s your product, package it properly.