Pet Age recently spoke with Jonathan Zelinger, president of Ethical Products, to find out what sets the 70-year-old pet product brand apart from its competition.
Where do you find the inspiration for your product designs?
Many new ideas are brought to us by our employees who are pet parents and pet lovers. New product inventors and designers are encouraged to submit their new ideas to us for consideration and we normally review more than 200 submissions annually. I also travel the globe attending tradeshows for many different categories such as children’s toys, textiles and fashion to stay on top of trends and innovation. Talking with the independent retailers at trade shows and open houses has been a great source of product inspiration.
How would you describe the evolution of Ethical Products’ product line since the company’s inception in 1952?
When our company first began, we were importing bird toys primarily from Japan. Fast forward to 2022, and we are no longer in the bird toy category nor are we importing any products from Japan. We have moved heavily into products that are sustainable and suitable for dogs and cats. Our primary sources of supply are now China, India and South America.
Our recent growth has come primarily from the new dog chews we introduced in 2019. Our Nothin’ To Hide rawhide alternative chews have been a huge hit with pet retailers and consumers and we are expanding the line with new SKUs in 2022. In addition, due to increased pet adoptions during the COVID-19 pandemic, our sales grew exponentially as the pie grew for everyone involved in the pet market.
What makes Ethical Products stand out from its competition?
We like to say that we were Ethical before being ethical was trendy. Since our founding in 1952, we have believed in ethical sourcing and in treating our customers, consumers and suppliers in an ethical and honest fashion. We enjoy relationships with customers, sales reps and suppliers that span decades and that gives us a great competitive advantage.
What can we expect from Ethical Products at this year’s Global Pet Expo when it comes to innovation?
We are very excited to introduce an innovative new line of products under the Cosmo license. Ethical has partnered with Hearst Publications and Cosmopolitan magazine to create an upscale line of pet products that will appeal to a demographic that has not been historically sufficiently served by our industry.
Sustainability, too. Ethical is very cognizant of our carbon footprint and we are taking steps to minimize it. In 2022 we are introducing the Dr. Bales One Source Cat Litter which is a single ingredient cat litter made from the renewable yuca plant. We are also introducing a complete line of dog and cat toys featuring recycled materials that are certified as sustainable.
What are your passions outside of the business?
I’m an avid cyclist and when I’m not spending time with my wife, children and grandchildren, I’m in the saddle training for my next charity ride or century ride.