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Petco Shakes Up Industry By Tapping Inventor Of Whole Food Movement To Build Exhibition Kitchens In Stores

In a first-ever move, San Diego-headquartered Petco, a leading specialty retailer of pet products and services with more than 1,500 Petco and Unleashed by Petco locations in North America, has tapped Los Alamitos, CaliforniaJustFoodForDogs to open hundreds of “stores within stores” with many of them featuring exhibition kitchens so customers can see how the food is made.  Petco CEO Brad Weston says that JustFoodForDogs has distinguished itself as a game-changer in the industry by encouraging pet parents to embrace, small batch, human-grade food that is “fit for human consumption but nutritionally balanced for pets.” JustFoodForDogs’ product, which uses only USDA-grade meats and produce, is formulated by a team of veterinarians, many of whom hold rare subspecialty degrees (e.g., nutrition, toxicology, dermatology, etc.).  They were tasked with creating a brand of food designed to keep pets living longer and healthier lives.  It is made fresh daily before its customers at JustFoodForDogs exhibition kitchens throughout Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties.

The partnership with Petco is a first of its kind as no pet retailer has ever built exhibition kitchens in its locations. While some Petco stores will feature these kitchens, others will house smaller pantries and runs that will be supplied with fresh product daily beginning in New York City and Southern California.

Established in 2010, JustFoodForDogs emerged as a “disrupter” in the industry when it debuted its high-quality brand of product. Serial entrepreneur Shawn Buckley founded the company with the idea of developing an alternative to commercial brand dog food commonly found at retail stores.  He enlisted a team of veterinarians who created the product then opened locations throughout Southern California.  Some of the original team work full-time at JustFoodForDogs and are actively involved in the formulation of the food as well as studying its effects on dogs.  They are also involved with conducting scientific research to support those studies.

“We are delighted to partner with Petco, the most prominent retailer of pet products and services in the world,” said Buckley, who added, in another first, JustFoodForDogs’ own nutrition consultants will staff the Petco stores.

“As the inventor of the most radical change in pet food in decades, JustFoodForDogs is on the vanguard of a new trend that is rapidly changing the industry,” said Petco executive vice president and chief merchandising officer Rebecca Frechette.  ”We researched other potential partners in the genre and decided to go with JustFoodForDogs as the company’s unwavering commitment to quality and love of pets mirror Petco’s core beliefs.  Also, they have invested considerable resources in research and maintain a staff of vets who work tirelessly to improve the product.”

Added JustFoodForDogs CEO Carey Tischler, ”What distinguishes Petco from other retailers is that they share the same vision and commitment that our company values which is to change the standard in the way we feed our pets by offering the absolute best food available.”

Veterinarian Oscar Chavez, JustFoodForDogs chief medical officer and a professor of canine clinical nutrition, said, “A growing number of people regard their four-legged pets as family members and, thus, are taking better care of them than ever. I think we are witnessing a paradigm shift in the pet food business and the partnership between Petco and JustFoodForDogs is representative of that.”

Last year, L Catterton, the largest and most global consumer-focused private equity firm in the world, made a significant growth investment in JustFoodForDogs to accelerate growth and expansion. This laid the groundwork for the company teaming up with Oakland, California based Pet Food Express (PFE) to build pantries and runs at several of its stores. Sales have been so brisk since the partnership started a year ago that PFE has green-lighted additional pantries and runs in its Northern California stores.

The pet food industry continues to evolve and the deal between Petco and JustFoodForDogs comes on the heels of some major acquisitions.  General Mills purchased Blue Buffalo for $8 billionand J.M. Smucker Co. agreed to buy Ainsworth Pet Nutrition from L Catterton for $1.9 billion.  Both companies are betting that pet food can help reinvigorate sales in a sluggish consumer-product industry.

Frechette added, “We are betting that continually reinventing the category will drive the next wave of growth in the industry.”

“As more and more pet parents are steering away from kibble and embracing real food (made from USDA-grade meats and produce), such strategic moves like those made by General Mills and Smuckers may prove obsolete,” said Buckley.  ”Just as the once-powerful Blockbuster Video gave way to Netflix, I believe we’ll soon see a paradigm shift in how we feed our beloved pets.”

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Posted by on Jun 5 2018. Filed under The Buzz. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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  • February 2019