PET Food Processing - June 2020 - 64

DISTRIBUTION

Deciding which
product line to
sell through which
channel requires a
processor to have a
clear understanding
of its customers and
the market.
NutriSource

64

to outsource more work to outside trusted partners who
are current on omnichannel efforts. Holly Sher, president of Evanger's Dog & Cat Food Co., Markham, Ill.,
described the long-term partnerships built between
manufacturers and distributors to be similar to a
good marriage. For the 85-year-old company, this includes
working with a distributor that's not only familiar with the
line(s) but the people and ingredients behind the products. Sher points out, however, that as the number of SKUs
continue to increase, there will be a limit on the amount of
time a distributor has to sell.
"Right now, we're seeing many retailers and distributors increasing orders of canned and dry food," Sher said.
"Consumers are stocking up to feed their animals, but we
can't say what will happen in a couple of months, especially
during these uncertain times."
To optimize its distribution opportunities, Evanger's
works with a small distributor and a large distributor in
each region. Because some distributors call on similar
customers, there can also be an added benefit of competition among distributors. Sher predicted a growing appreciation for products made in the United States, doubledigit growth with family-owned distribution centers (big
and small), and a to-be-determined element regarding the
February merger of Animal Supply Company and Phillips
Pet Food & Supplies.
Processor KLN Family Brands, Perham, Minn., chooses
to focus on only selling to independent pet retailers. As a
family-owned and -run business, the manufacturer of
NutriSource branded products looks to support similar
businesses. By understanding the needs of its customers,
the company finds that most understand and appreciate
the company's choice to concentrate its efforts in only one
channel. This includes employing a sizable sales force that
works daily with its retail and distribution partners to focus
on marketing efforts and consumer-based advertising and
promotions, according to Darren Fujii, chief growth officer,

national sales manager, KLN Family Brands. By choosing to
support the independent retailers, the company is not selling to Amazon and Chewy but instead relying on its partners to provide the e-commerce and delivery options consumers are looking for and supporting its brand in return.
"We have long-built and solid relationships with our distribution partners and are in constant communication with
them," Fujii said. "Our model is to partner with one of the
national distributors as well as a strong regional distributor in each market. Our partners understand our business
model and provide the support we need."
Increasingly, brands are breaking channel lines as changes in pet food and treat sales distribution continue to add
pressure on retailers. With more e-commerce players, Fujii
said he sees an increase in the competitive landscape but
maintains that not all channels can provide the same services or experiences.

Ready or not

Particularly in the current environment, many predict investment in e-commerce will continue to grow substantially. Brands willing to invest in and maintain a well-designed,
intuitive, mobile-friendly e-commerce site will allow manufacturers to reap the retail margin while establishing a
personal relationship with their end customer, according to
Chris Ruben, industry consultant at PetindustryPros.com.
Manufacturers must remain aware of audience needs as
they pursue an e-commerce strategy. PMMI recommends
manufacturers interested in e-commerce adopt a streamlined approach of developing products that work well
throughout the various distribution channels and minimize the number of SKUs to simplify changeovers.
"Unless you have really deep pockets, it's hard to be all
things to all pet parents," Ruben concluded. "Research relentlessly, conduct a thorough competitive analysis and
test, test, test. Identify your strengths and determine which
market(s) best fit your brand and product messaging."  PFP

PET FOOD PROCESSING | June 2020 | www.petfoodprocessing.net

PFP_Jun20.indb 64

5/15/2020 3:05:47 PM


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PET Food Processing - June 2020

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