The pet food sector is a crowded place, and brands are finding ways to set themselves apart from their competitors. Evermore Pet Food is an independent, women-owned company that have been dedicated to using fresh, human-grade, whole-food ingredients cooked in a U.S. kitchen since launching in 2009. Pet Age recently spoke with Alison Blumberg, chef and co-founder of Evermore Pet Food, to learn more about the dog food brand.
How has your background as a chef benefited you when it comes to crafting Evermore dog food?
I have always loved good food. After moving to California back in the late 1990s and being exposed for the first time to the thoughtfully sourced, high-quality meat and produce grown here, I began my long-term obsession with the impact of these fresh ingredients on the health and well-being of our bodies and our planet. I was so passionate about this that I ended up leaving a PhD program at The University of Chicago to become trained as a health-supportive chef at the Natural Gourmet Institute (now part of the Institute of Culinary Education) and never looked back. As such, my main goal is to nourish those I feed with real and delicious food, made from what I consider beautiful ingredients that come from well-treated animals and healthy soil. To me, food is food, and I put the same care and consideration into what I feed my own family, a high-end restaurant patron, children at a summer camp or people’s pets. Nutritional requirements aside, the biggest difference is that humans don’t jump up and down and lick your face when you are getting their dinner ready.
What can you tell us about your sourcing principles, practices and commitments to transparency?
When we launched Evermore, we were naive about the pet food industry but educated about the painful realities of factory farming. As pet parents, we believe our dogs and cats thrive best on meat-based diets. If we were going to devote our lives to making pet food, we needed to be vocal animal welfare advocates. While every business wants to grow financially, our desire to grow has also always been intrinsically linked to having a louder voice and a greater ability to support ranchers committed to the humane treatment of farmed animals.
I am thankful that animal welfare is increasingly becoming an important consideration in pet parents’ purchasing decisions. Unfortunately, this means that there is now also a lot more “humane washing” cropping up in both human and pet food. At Evermore, we have always clearly communicated our sourcing standards and practices. We consider our meat suppliers as the heart of our food (figuratively and literally) and are very proud of the vendor relationships we’ve built over the past 14 years. Thus, we have taken the radical step of openly sharing who they are with our customers.
We are also committed to sourcing pasture-raised eggs, organic produce and other supporting ingredients and sustainable fish oils.
How would you describe a relationship between Evermore and its retailer partners?
As with all our relationships, we value quality over quantity. Early on, we tried to be in as many places as possible. Over time we have come to realize that approach was not doing us — or our retail partners — any favors. We are an independent company that has been boot-strapping it since day one, so we understand how challenging it can be to run a successful small business in an industry of heavily funded big brands, whether it be pet food companies or large pet supply chains. Like independent retailers, we care deeply about our customers and personally field their questions and concerns (yes, we even answer our phones). For those retailers who want to work with us and believe in the value of our food, we consider them to be our partners, just like we do with our vendors, kitchen and lab. As with our other partners, we have a direct relationship with our retailers and do not currently work with a distributor.
What have been the keys to your success as an independent brand in the highly competitive dog food sector?
Evermore was one of the first foods in the fresh “gently cooked” category — in fact, we’re pretty sure we coined the term when we started describing our food this way back in 2010. This whole time we’ve been keeping our heads down and focusing on making the best food possible. We’ve eschewed fast growth in favor of sustainable growth, which is not the most popular path for many businesses these days. Our lack of external funding means we must be very careful how we allocate our resources, but it also means that our priority remains answering to ourselves and to our customers, not investors. In doing so, we have engendered a level of trust and transparency that is special in today’s climate. We are small but mighty, and we believe that makes us stand out in the heavily crowded pet food landscape.