Pet Age recently spoke with Sharon Rossi, CEO of FoodScience Corp., to learn more about the brand and how it’s been able to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic.
How has FoodScience navigated the COVID-19 pandemic?
I’m incredibly proud of the way FoodScience employees responded to the challenges posed by these unprecedented times. Throughout the pandemic, our leadership team worked quickly to enact additional safety measures and protect our employees based on continually evolving guidance from local and federal authorities. In the beginning of the pandemic, the guidance changed daily! As an essential business, we implemented protocols that allowed us protect our employees and continue to serve our customers. One of our FoodScience Fundamentals is “Think Safe Work Safe,” and that has been our guiding lens during the pandemic. We were ahead of the curve with asking employees to work from home for those in roles that could be accomplished remotely. At our two manufacturing facilities in Vermont, we instituted safety precautions, including temperature scans, screening procedures, masks, physical distancing, and additional facility sanitization. For the three-month virus high point in Vermont, we provided catered lunches for on-site employees in order to reduce contact points as well as support local businesses. I’m so grateful to FoodScience employees for taking personal responsibility to keep themselves, their families, and their co-workers safe during this ongoing pandemic.
Through the lens of “Think Safe Work Safe,” we’ve ramped up production. The pandemic stimulated a spike in demand for pet health products. A rise in pet adoptions coupled with people working from home has led to more consumers seeking relief for their pets’ behavioral issues. Because we know that behavior is the leading cause of pet relinquishment, we strive to help pet parents reduce that risk with our portfolio of products, including Pet Naturals Calming chews and VetriScience Composure products. Solving behavioral issues is both challenging and incredibly rewarding for pet parents and we’re honored to be a part of their journey.
In what ways does FoodScience help drive consumer traffic to independent pet retail?
We understand that the pandemic has created immense challenges for independent pet retailers. We also know how important these businesses are to their communities. We’re working hard to support independent retailers through product development, marketing opportunities and online educational resources for staff. We’ve recently partnered with Promoboxx, a digital marketing platform offering social media tools, and Astro Loyalty, a customer loyalty program for retailers. We believe that these complementary resources will allow independent stores to capitalize on customer loyalty and build on their expertise in animal health.
How does FoodScience’s forward-thinking strategy encourage the growth of independent pet retail?
We keep a close eye on data and emerging trends in the industry to develop insights that drive our innovation pipeline. Whether in supplements, treats or adjacent categories, data analysis and consumer insights have helped us identify gaps in the marketplace where we can move quickly to address consumer demands and accelerate category growth. Our top position in the behavior category in MULO with Pet Naturals Calming chews has afforded us the ability to grow the category for our retail partners. As we have embraced both the opportunities and the challenges of omnichannel commerce, we work to differentiate across channels and have strong MAP, reseller and distributor policies aligned with our strategy. Our agility as a company has allowed us to offer creative solutions and unique insights to our retail customers to drive traffic to their stores and build basket size. We strive to be independent pet retailers’ partner of choice to help grow their category and boost customer loyalty.
What recent innovations has FoodScience launched that supports its mission?
With the line blurring between supplements, functional treats and condition specific-diets, our vast knowledge of animal nutrition has allowed us to address common pet health issues while delivering effective solutions for pet parents. For example, we recently launched VetriScience Pinchers for dogs, which is the first “over-the-counter” pill hiding treat with probiotics. Another example is our creation of Pet Naturals Superfood Treats, driven by our understanding that dogs should get nutrients from a variety of sources beyond meat. Superfood ingredients such as kale, oats and blueberries help address the dietary needs of dogs without sacrificing flavor. With a robust supplement business on the human side with our DaVinci brand, we watch human health trends closely to see what key health issues and trending ingredients might carry over to pet supplements.
Can you recall a story from a pet parent that has inspired you?
There have been so many stories from pet parents that have touched my heart! We’re always hearing stories about dogs who were barely moving and then after just a few weeks of taking GlycoFlex, they are as active as a puppy. We also know that we have kept many pets in their forever homes with our behavior products. VetriScience’s Take Good Care Series highlights the incredible bond between pet owners and their dogs. These inspirational stories, including one about wounded warrior Christie and her dog Moxie, focused on service, working and competitive dogs and how supplements support their health and performance. It’s truly inspiring to watch these stories come to life and it further drives home the importance of our mission to help people and pets live healthier lives.