Pet Age recently spoke with Claire Hamblion, marketing manager for UK-based Supreme Petfoods, to learn more about what goes into the manufacturing of veterinary-recommended, species-specific foods for small companion animals.
How did it all begin for Supreme Petfoods in 1991?
Back then, Supreme Petfoods wasn’t a company. Instead, there was a farm in the heart of agricultural land in Suffolk, England. The farmer started bagging up their hay and straw for local pet stores initially. But they soon started to understand that the foods available for small pets at that time offered poor quality nutrition and were upset to find that diets were not tailored to meet the specific needs of each pet species. At that time, there was already a huge selection of foods for cats and dogs tailored to their nutritional needs and even lifestyle. With increased understanding, the passion grew to improve the lives of small pets.
We’re now a company that provides food for small pets all around the world, but here at Supreme, our passion has never died. We believe that small pets deserve so much more and need the same quality of nutrition that is available for cats and dogs. We know that how our pets are fed makes a big difference to their health and well-being and take our role in that very seriously.
Can you describe the team of veterinarians and nutritionists who help develop the brand’s recipes?
We have a very established team here at Supreme. Claire our Marketing Manager and Nick, who specialises in developing nutritional products for small pets, have worked here for many years, as have most of the team. We’re a dedicated bunch who live and breathe small pets. We’ve even been known to experiment with new product formats and recipes in our own kitchens!
We also work with a network of vets and have close relationships with independent specialist vets, such as Molly Varga in the UK and Charly Pignon in France. That allows us to always be aware, not just of the latest scientific findings but also what’s actually happening out there in vet practice and the conditions that are being seen. Add to that a network of welfare organisations and daily conversations with small pet enthusiasts and it all adds up to a whole lot of knowledge about small pets and their owners.
How would you describe the ethics that drives Supreme Petfoods?
The science is important to us and a real driver for our product development. What we don’t put in—such as ensuring sugar is not added in the form of syrups or molasses and ensuring no meat can ever contaminate a herbivore diet—is as important as what we do put in. We select only the best quality ingredients, use fixed formulas and ensure total traceability. It’s about working to a high standard.
Our biggest watchword is trust – we understand that pet parents need to trust us to work with integrity and to put the needs of their pets first. That also means being aware of our obligations to the planet and the local communities we work alongside.
What sets Supreme Petfoods apart from its competitors?
What makes us different is our pet food pellets are extruded, rather than cold-pressed. It’s a product format we have gained a good deal of expertise in and one we have developed to suit the needs of small pets. As an extruded pellet is produced under temperature and pressure, we don’t have to include sticky syrups to bind the ingredients together or to make the high fiber palatable. Being able to avoid unnecessary sugar intake is a really good option for small pets and ideal for digestive health. Pets love the light, crunchy texture of our extruded pellets, which makes it an easy format to introduce and switching over in a two-week period is usually quite easy, with small pets eager to try their new tasty, healthy diet.
We also complement the food with a range of tasty, healthy baked treats that are rich in natural ingredients, high in fibre and again have no added sugars.
It’s making quite an impact in pet stores across America and we’re pleased to be making a difference.
Which varieties of Supreme Petfoods are most popular in the United States?
It’s all about the extrusions in the United States right now. Selective Rabbit Adult and Guinea Pig, our cornerstone extruded products, are showing strong growth and generating lots of repeat sales. We’re also seeing increasing awareness of our lifestyle type products that pet owners really relate to once they have bought into the extrusion concept. In particular, our grain-free food is hugely popular, which is not a great surprise as we know that as many as 93 percent of rabbit owners want to see a grain-free food that more closely replicates the diet of wild rabbits.
Of course, with most rabbits being kept within the home, Selective House Rabbit is another winner and flying off the shelves right now. It offers a blend of fibre to mimic foraging by offering a range of tastes and flavours within the kibble. The House Rabbit product is also fortified with the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D to compensate for additional time spent indoors. It’s really rewarding to see a lifestyle product be so successful when we look back at where we aimed to be when we first started out. We can certainly say that we’ve achieved parity with cat and dog foods now we have quality foods, tailored to the nutritional needs of rabbits and specific to their lifestyle.