Pet Age recently spoke with Andreas Schmidt, president of San Francisco Bay Brand (SFBB), to discuss the brands and topics affecting the aquatic pet industry.
Q What’s been the biggest change to nutrition in the aquatic pet industry since SFBB began 50 years ago?
A The advancement of vitamin-mineral compounds, the availability of a wider range of ingredients made possible through research and nutritional studies, and ingredients which allow for improved mixing and compounding of feeds. For many years, U.S. hobbyists fed brine shrimp to their fish as a staple because SFBB’s nationwide distribution made it one of the most readily available live and frozen foods for aquarium fish. In the early ’80s, we introduced frozen krill and plankton, which was packaged for SFBB by Murex, a company which we later purchased.
In the mid ’80s, Ocean Nutrition emerged out of research funded by Sea World San Diego. It put an effort into captive breeding of clownfish, as well as several other species of marine fish. A local store found out about the formula diet, and they were the first frozen formula foods available to the aquatic trade for marine and reef aquariums.
Since then, there has been a stream of new information about the nutritional requirements of marine—and even freshwater—species, which we work with and assimilate into our products.
Q What would you describe as your best decision since becoming president of SFBB in 1991?
A To expand the variety of frozen items we offer. We have added more than three times our original offering of frozen fish food products since the beginning when SFBB’s only product was brine shrimp.
These products include the single ingredient, enriched brine shrimp and formulated foods. We have continued to expand our product offerings, with our most recent additions being Coral Cuisine (a frozen coral food) and the Reef Multi-Pack.
Q How have retailers and fishkeepers responded to the SFBB cube blister packs?
A The first blisters made by SFBB were back in the mid ’80s. They were too large for feeding the average size aquarium. They were introduced into the EU markets around the same time. In the late ’80s we tried packaging frozen food clam shell cube trays due to cost constraints of equipment. Then, in the mid ’90s, we introduced the 24 count standard which was also being used in the EU. We continued until the early 2000s when we again reduced to 30. When we tried to go to 36 counts in the 2005 time frame, they did not work, as we exceeded the design capability of the equipment and material and reverted back to the 30 count. So, we made an even smaller cube to make smaller cubes for the new Nano trend.
Q What is the SFBB freezer promotion that SFBB offers to distributors and stores?
A Since its inception in the early ’70s, during the Mattel days, when over 10,000 freezers were placed into retail during the first years and have continued still to this day, frozen foods and freezers are a part of every pet store. The program which we still run today offers various options to help stores enter the frozen food category for aquatics at a low cost or none at all. It also gave every new company that manufactured frozen fish food a place for their products in retail stores as we had already placed thousands of freezers over the years.
Q How would you describe the SFBB motto, “Feeds everything that swims”?
A Well I would not go so far as to call it a motto; it is a simple way for me to describe all of the products that we have developed and created over the years. We got to a point when I looked around and decided that we are in the food business and had most of the bases covered. So, we started the Healthy Herp line for about three or four years of research using probiotics—natural ingredients that were mostly freeze dried.
I think we can pretty much cover much of the species available today for the entire aquatic industry, with continuous process improvement.