Pet Age spoke with Harald Fisker, president of Grizzly Pet Products, about the company’s products, origins and sustainability efforts.
Tom Mazorlig: Can you tell me the history of Grizzly Pet Products?
Harald Fisker: The idea and vision of Grizzly came together from working with salmon products and plants in my previous bioengineering career and from the apparent lack of good omega-3 supplements on the pet shelves about 15 years ago. The shelves were stocked with all kinds of soy oil derived omega-6 supplements and only one low potency omega-3 product. It was like an invitation to make ends meet, so I ended my corporate career and started Grizzly Pet Products in January 2002.
Being new to the pet industry, it took time to get things really rolling, but being extremely persistent with product quality and branding helped spread the word steadily faster. Come 2007, we outgrew our sourcing plant and installed our own salmon oil production plant in Alaska, more than doubling the resources. After yet another plant and plant expansions in 2013, we again doubled the sourcing capacity, and 2016 will see one more plant built in Alaska. We strongly believe in controlling the quality of our products from fish to consumer and there’s no better way than designing and building our own plants.
We added in-house baked and dehydrated treats to the line-up about eight years ago, and pollock oil was added in 2013. Our latest additions, Grizzly Krill Oil and Grizzly Joint Aid, were added earlier this year and are finding their way to the shelves.
Tom: Grizzly’s products are certified by the National Animal Supplements Council (NASC). Can you tell me what that certification means and how Grizzly got certified?
Harald: NASC was originally formed to help resolve the situation around “unapproved” joint ingredients/products in order to avoid Stop Sales orders from FDA and state inspectors. It has over the years grown into being a well respected but also necessary authority to keep bridging the gap between FDA and the pet industry. NASC offers its members certification through full-blown cGMP audits, which verify all ingredients used and all processes used, as well as all quality and production documentation. It’s a major ordeal to obtain and maintain, so we’re very proud to have this certification, which enables Grizzly to display the NASC seal on all our products, informing customers that our products are produced following very strict guidelines and policies.
Tom: It’s clear that sustainability and being ecologically responsible are important to Grizzly. Can you tell me more about the company’s efforts to be eco-friendly?
Harald: All our oil products, whether it’s salmon, pollock or krill, all come from certified sustainable fisheries in Alaska and Antarctica, respectively. We actually utilize co-products from salmon and pollock seafood productions, so no fish is caught for the purpose of pet products alone. We also strive to procure all our packaging in the USA, so not only the products themselves are made in USA.
Tom: Most of your products are made from salmon oil or pollock oil. What are the benefits of these oils and what are the differences between them?
Harald: Grizzly has strong ties to the Alaskan seafood industry, so it’s natural for us to source raw materials from salmon and pollock fisheries. Further, it is a known fact that salmon oil and pollock are amongst the best fish oils due to the high concentrations of long chain omega-3 fatty acids, benefitting our pet’s health inside out, from heart to coat. We also use a lot of salmon proteins in our treats and joint products, especially because fish protein, nutrition-wise, is only second to egg white protein, easily outperforming chicken, turkey and mammal proteins.
Tom: I noticed on your website that you have an omega fatty acid supplement for horses. What made you decide to branch out to make an equine product?
Harald: The Grizzly Omega Aid for horses actually came about just like the original Grizzly Salmon Oil. There was almost nobody offering the good long chain omega-3s for horses. There was a lot of omega-6 plant oils and a few short chain omega-3s from flaxseeds. So we created a salmon oil based product for horses, neatly disguising the fishy origin with some organic peppermint oil. I tell you, it smells good the days we’re producing that product.
Tom: What’s a typical day like for you?
Harald: I’m privileged to have a fantastic production, quality and office staff onboard, so I can typically spend most of my time looking ahead, be it new production plants, marketing and sales plans, export regulations and certifications or even new products every now and then. I like to be at our main production facility in Woodinville, Wash., keeping a finger on the pulse, but travels to Alaska during the salmon season and, of course, to trade shows and other events are good for new inspirations and networking.
Tom: What’s in the future for Grizzly? What new products do you have in the works?
Harald: We plan to keep the good Grizzly work up for years to come, and with that I sure expect new products to surface in the near future, but that sack is still tied up pretty good.