Pet Age recently spoke with Olivier Amice, CEO of Whitebridge, to learn more about the company’s history and plans for 2020 and beyond.
What is Whitebridge Pet Brands (WPB), and what makes it so different from other companies?
WPB is a petfood company dedicated to improving cats and dogs Health and Happiness through Better Nutrition. For us, better nutrition means five things: Formulating recipes to the pet’s physiology, using natural and wholesome ingredients, producing highly palatable products, using manufacturing processes that are similar to how we prepare our meals at home and the fun and peace of mind for the pet parents who want to do the very best they can for their pets.
The bulk of the dog and cat food market is dry and most of that is extruded kibble. For WPB, dry kibble is a tiny percentage of what we do. While kibble is convenient and less pricey for the consumer, we believe other food formats are better for pets. Hydration through Food, Variety and Limited Processing provides better nutrition for humans and pets too! This is the reason our focus is on wet, including raw foods and healthy treats.
WPB is 6 years old, the result of the merging of Cloud Star, Tiki Pets, Dogswell and Cardinal Pet Care. These four companies were complementary to each other and compatible with our definition of better nutrition. Since working as one enterprise each of these brands has experienced accelerated growth.
WPB is supported by an investment firm, Frontenac Company. They have been incredibly supportive of our initiatives and have been a great partner over the last six years. Frontenac continues to be ready to accompany us in this journey and help us merge with other brands if we can be “better together.”
Finally, WPB is a group of pet lovers dedicated to help pets live better lives. Most of our group has been in the industry for many years. We have an experienced, connected, and lean organization. We go fast, we have fun and we want to build a meaningful pet nutrition company that we can be proud of.
What does Cardinal Pet Care, which Whitebridge acquired earlier this year, bring to your stable of brands?
While CPC started with grooming products, over the years they developed a treat business that today represents most of CPC sales. Pet Botanics and Crazy Dog are leading training treats lines. With these two new brands added to our Cloud Star Tricky Trainer line, WPB has become the leading dog training treats provider in North America.
Why should retailers pay close attention to Whitebridge?
Early in my career, a mentor told me: “If our product is not different the market (the consumer and the retailer) does not need us.” This has stuck with me and innovation is at the heart of what we do at WPB. While being different is important, being relevant is also very critical. At WPB, we comb a lot data from multiple sources to launch truly new products that resonate with consumers.
Retailers may want to look at us because of our brands that consumers look for and the new products we launch each year. For example, our recently introduced Tiki Dog Taste of the World, with recipes such at French Beef Burgundy or Italian Carbonara recipes, has been a huge hit. We are currently launching under Cloud StarWag More Bark Less our first Human Grade Pet Ice Cream packed with probiotics and our new Dogswell Dental Jerky. We have other exciting products coming to market later this year and in 2021.
What is your view on the future of wet pet food?
Wet pet food is growing because of the continued humanization of pets. We do not feed our kids the same meal everyday made of dry food. Why should we feed our pets exclusively dry kibbles? Wet food is more palatable that dry food, it provides more hydration which is especially important for cats and smaller dogs. Pets also enjoy variety in their meals. So wet is great, whether as a meal out of a can or a pouch, as a topper or even in a raw diet. Wet is good for the pet; it is satisfying for the pet parent to feed and it is good for the retailer, since wet food drives revenue. All the stars are aligned with wet so at WPB we are bullish on the wet segment and we want to continue to bring new news to the category.
How would you describe what pets mean to you?
I started to run many years ago because of Buddy, my first Labrador. I still run today. I know my children are more caring individuals because of the dogs who have lived with us. These are examples of how our pets have made us happier and healthier and like many other pet parents, I want to give back to pets as much as they give us.