March Pet Insight

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Category Analysis Fish Oils

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et owners have understood the relevance and the reasons why they should give their pets fish oils. However, intensified focus on taking preventative health measures and bolstering immune system health that occurred last year on the human side has spilled over into the pet industry. Pet owners have spent the past year nimbly taking action and paying closer attention to their pets’ health with the help of products containing fish oils. “Products that are non-GMO are very important to us, where the supplier sources its fish for fish oil is important to us and cGMP and NASC approval is important to us,” said Lori Johnson, Owner of pet specialty retailer Healthy Tails, based in Reno, NV. “The packaging of the oils especially, plays a very important role for us in the products we carry. Because of our own approval process, some of the oils we carry are quite pricey, but the quality is worth it. Variety of oils also plays an important part in our purchasing.” Nordic Naturals believes pet owners’ perception of fish oils is unchanged. Pet parents remain loyal to the category and to the brands which have proven effective and safe for their pets. “The fish oils category continues to be of paramount importance to pet owners, many of whom place their companion pet’s health equal to, or even above their own,” said Derek Bodkin of Nordic Naturals. “The customer, largely by necessity over the past year, has discovered the relative ease of online shopping, and has it a regular part of their lives. Enhanced by subscription purchase services, this has now become a very efficient day-to-day shopping experience. Of course, this has also brought changes to our retail pet store partners. Each is meeting the challenges of this change of business in their own creative way, such as by promoting their own store’s website, or with curbside pickup, etc.” “I guess what I would say is with the situation in Alaska and wild salmon oil being severely limited as far as fish and oil production, things are going to change as far as what options there are for retailers and consumers as far as what kinds of oils they offer for sale,”

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said Ted Hayes of Life Line Pet Nutrition. “The trend seems to be with all of the major producers, Alaskan salmon and Alaskan pollock oil blend we’re taking a different twist on that. Not only are we doing that, we’re also doing a bunch of other oils too that just add a little depth to the line. Offer more options I guess is what it really comes down to, offering options to the retailer and to the consumer.” For Grizzly Pet Products the current state of the fish oils category presents growth opportunities for the supplier and one silver lining of last year’s conditions is how demand for fish oils have increased as a result of Covid. Earlier this month, the company, which has been manufacturing pet supplements made primarily with Wild Alaskan fish oils since 2002, was acquired by Whitebridge Pet Brands, a pet food company. Grizzly Pet Products marks the fifth acquisition made by Whitebridge since its founding in 2015. “While e-commerce channels are growing due to Covid, Grizzly is proud to have maintained an average of 24.8 percent growth in the pet specialty brick and mortar channel,” said National Sales Director Chad Tillman. “Supplements like fish oils from Grizzly are not only high margin products for stores but right now they are some of the few items that are truly growing during these prolonged Covid times.” Amidst pressure and unprecedented circumstances, Life Line Pet Nutrition has remained unflappable and company leaders continue to press on by putting their heads down and continuing to be a reliable partner and ally for retailers. “We’ve been cranking product out,” Hayes said. “We have taken numerous safety measures here at our factory with social distancing, protective face guards and masks and constant disinfecting. We haven’t had any issues at all as far as our staff is concerned and we’re able to provide product with no interruption at all in service.” “Success for Grizzly is always measured by our pet specialty brick and mortar growth,” Tillman said. “Our support goes to our partners within that channel, and to be there for them during

Covid and continuing to help them significantly grow their supplement sales is a large source of pride for Grizzly.” Select fish oils suppliers were able to weather the storm better than industry peers if they had factors such as experience and a solid company culture locked in place. “Well, for one thing, when the pandemic hit last year Nordic Naturals had turned 25 years old, so it’s not like we just appeared on the scene yesterday,” Bodkin said. “That helps in a case like this. We’re so committed to the nutritional supplements industry that it just wasn’t a question of whether we would do what was needed to keep going. So, longevity in the industry is certainly a factor, but company culture is too. Nordic is still a family-run business; staff know one another, work closely with one another, and will put in the extra effort to make sure we meet our goals. That also matters a lot in challenging times. Finally, I would point to the fact that we have our own cutting-edge fish oil processing facility, Nordic Pharma. As mentioned earlier, vertical integration of our fish oil process is vital for weathering crises with minimal impact.” Life Line Pet Nutrition didn’t need to adjust much in the last year in terms of operations, but sourcing required extra attention. “We just kind of continued on. We didn’t do anything differently,” Hayes said. “We’ve always kept a clean operation and we’ve already had social distancing in place anyway. There really weren’t any changes that we had to do. We met challenges by coming out with four new SKUs, all from wild harvested sustainable fish.” “Grizzly’s success is three-fold; dedication to brick and mortar pet specialty retailers, our Grizzly sales team that works closely with those brick and mortar partners and being vertically integrated to provide the best products in our category,” Tillman said. “Couple those pillars, with being the market leading brand ensured that we were able to weather the storm and continue supporting our brick and mortar partners throughout the ongoing Covid situation.”