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General Pet Supply Tips on Selling Food and Treats


February 14, 2018

According to John Gibbons, president at A GPS For Pet Businesses, “every week over 20 million U.S. households buy food and/or treats for their pet children.”

Manufacturers and retailers must keep up with that demand, making and stocking enough food and treats so that each of those 20+ million households finds the products they’re looking for. Distributors are another important component to ensuring that those millions of owners and their pets receive the food and treats they desire, for they ensure the food and treats get from the brands’ warehouses to the stores’ shelves. One such distributor is General Pet Supply.

The Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based company has six branches in Minnesota, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio and Michigan, supplying various types of pet food and treats to retailers in nearly 20 states. According to the company’s website, General Pet Supply carries more than 14,000 products from 140 different manufacturers—about 35-40 of those companies are food/ treat lines, meaning approximately 30 percent of the items General Pet Supply stocks are food/treats, according to the company’s VP of Sales and Marketing, BJ Cohn.BJ head shot 1-2018

General Pet Supply knows food and treats, so Cohn told Pet Age about his thoughts on food and treat trends as well as what retailers can do to make the sale.

What food category—wet, dry, dehydrated, raw—do you expect to grow the most in 2018, and why?

I expect to see innovation to be the main driver of growth in 2018. The use of select ingredients to promote specific health needs will be a key focus. Dry food will remain the largest piece of the pie in dog, and a mix of dry and wet will continue to be growth categories in cat. In the wet cat category, I would expect to see more human-like inclusions. With protein being the focus for the past several years, I think you will see the addition of high-quality vegetables and grains added to maximize nutrients and improve food for an overall balanced diet. I also expect pet food companies to market the benefits of prebiotics, which promote gut health to be another growth category.

With all the treats you offer retailers, do you find that certain types of treats sell best in different regions of the country?

I do not see a significant difference by region; however, treats with a purpose such as Nutraceuticals continue to grow at a rapid pace. The treat category should also mimic the human snack category, becoming healthier and with a purpose. Pet parents are becoming much more demanding and the manufacturers are paying attention.

What advice would you offer a retailer who is considering offering treats in bulk?

The idea of bulk treats is freshness, so it is imperative that the bulk area is maintained well. It should be cleaned regularly, and product should be rotated to ensure freshness. If you can’t do it “right,” don’t do it at all.

What are the typical margins in treats, and how do they help in supplemental sales?

Typical margin is between 35 and 50 percent for most retailers, and [they] are a terrific way to “build the basket.” The pet industry is filled with impulse items like treats, so it is important to make sure that they are readily available.

Where do you recommend a retailer place treats on the store floor?

Treats should be prominently displayed in multiple areas on the retail floor. Small treat packages can be hung on clip strips in the pet food aisle and in adjacent treat sections. I would also keep some treats near the register for those impulse purchases.

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