Doing Good Doesn’t Need to Cost More—It Just Takes Ingenuity
It’s no exaggeration to say that the COVID-19 pandemic changed the way we view a lot of things—ourselves, our loved ones and our planet. As the world locked down for the first time, air pollution decreased significantly. We became more intimately aware of the effects that our behaviors have on those around us. And some of us became more conscious of how much we needed company. Half of Americans welcomed pets into their families during the pandemic. For many, COVID became a wake-up call to pay more attention to the world around us. But unfortunately, for many more, who experienced job-loss, disrupted childcare or medical issues, it also became cause to tighten our purse strings a little.
For far too long, consumers have had to pay a premium for environmentally friendly or sustainable products, since they generally involve new or more labor-intensive practices. But as a business owner, if you’re willing to make the investment and trust the consumer to meet you halfway, there’s a way to split the difference and achieve that all-elusive win-win.
Even before COVID, public opinion in support of sustainability and environmentally friendly production has been steadily on the rise. But the pet food industry, where Canidae operates, has been frustratingly slow to adapt. So, we decided to take it upon ourselves to kick-start a much-needed change for the industry and double down on our mission to create a more sustainable pet food that is good for pets and the planet. We have outlined our stainability mission as a company and have ambitious goals on our horizon, like eliminating 80 percent of single-use plastics, partnering with regenerative agriculture companies, sourcing sustainably harvested proteins and utilizing rail transportation to cut down on diesel emissions.
Most recently, we’ve recently partnered with Petco to revolutionize the way customers buy pet food. Our newest initiative is the Kibble Refill Station—design and utility patent pending—that’s available right now at select Petco stores, expanding to over 100 stores later this year. This first-of-its-kind technology operates similar to bulk gravity-feed coffee bean or nuts systems, combined with a reusable zipper bag that eliminates the need for single-use reinforced bags, over 99 percent of which are disposed of in a landfill rather than recycled, according to the Pet Sustainability Coalition.
Changing the way pet parents buy food isn’t going to happen overnight, but our new kibble station is designed to make it easy, convenient and affordable for consumers to provide their beloved pets with high-quality, sustainable pet food at a good price. And by eliminating additional single-use plastics in production, as well as delivery, we’re able to keep tens of thousands of pet food bags out of landfills while also cutting costs on our end, savings that we pass directly to our customers, who can expect to save up to 45 percent per pound on their purchases.
Over the past year, inflation has risen over 7 percent—the highest since 1982—and companies are looking for creative ways to keep those inflation costs from impacting their consumers. The pet food industry itself faced a 2.4 percent increase according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and Pet Food Industry magazine predicts that the industry will continue to face inflation due to supply challenges and shortages. Combined with the increase in pet adoptions, expenses for many Americans have increased this year, so it was integral for us to find a way to ensure that pets are happy and healthy, their pet parents are getting the most bang for their buck and we’re not taking our eye off the prize when it comes to sustainability. This has been a challenging few years for a lot of reasons, but it’s also shown how challenges can lead to innovation that helps to change an industry and do good for our pets, ourselves and our planet.
Bret Furio is the chief executive officer at Canidae Pet Food, where he leads a team of over 150 employees spread across 22 states, including manufacturing operations in Brownwood, Texas, a national sales force and a corporate headquarters team based in Stamford, Connecticut.