National Pet Day and the Changing Pet Food Industry

Wilbur-Ellis pets.

Note: This article was originally published on the News & Insights section of the Wilbur-Ellis Nutrition website on April 15, 2020

In celebration of National Pet Day on April 11, we sat down with Nick Braden who leads our pet nutrition business.

At Wilbur-Ellis Nutrition, pets are part of our families. When we connected with Nick Braden, Vice President of Sales, Pet Nutrition & Rendering, he shared, “we recently lost our dog Bella, who had been with us for 15 years. She was a big part of our family. So, it’s exciting to be a part of an industry that supports pet families like mine.”

Over the last 18 months, he has seen the industry adapt and change to navigate challenges such as Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs and now the impact of COVID-19. “When the COVID-19 virus really took hold in the U.S., many states started to enact stay-at-home orders. People started preparing to stay in the home by buying more food and that includes more pet food. We are seeing the effects of this with increased demand. Being an essential business means we must be there to supply our pet partners with the ingredients they need to put pet food on the shelves. We have been prepared for this increased demand and have been delivering for our partners.”

While the animal nutrition industry, like many others in this current climate, may face some adversity, Nick sees these challenges as an opportunity to motivate his team. “Serving our customers is our number one goal and no matter what the circumstances are, we do whatever it takes to support them. When you maintain open lines of communication, you can be ready to serve when the needs arise whether it is a challenge from a partner or sourcing novel ingredients.”

Looking back at the beginning of the year, Nick reflected on some of the trends driving the industry such as increased demand for super premium pet food and fresh refrigerated food. “One of the interesting things we’re seeing is the growth of specialized diets, for example pet food that can help control pet allergies in their human parents.”

These trends and the current rapidly changing state of the industry create an opportunity for Wilbur-Ellis Nutrition to be more innovative in terms of meeting changing demand and how we’re continuing to ensure safety and building on our SQF Level 2 and Safe Feed, Safe Food* certifications.

“Our current testing methods allow us to be confident in the quality of solutions we provide our customers. The help of technology coupled with our rigorous manufacturing process have helped us increase our efficiency and effectiveness in providing safe nutrients and truly being a supplier of choice.”

The team at Wilbur-Ellis Nutrition will continue to find different ways to adapt to the changing needs of its partners and customers, in order to continue providing the essentials for our families and pets to thrive.

*SQF stands for Safe Quality Food and is a food safety certification program. To achieve SQF certification, suppliers complete extensive training; develop, document and implement food safety and quality plans; and undergo a third-party audit. The audit process evaluates a company’s food safety and quality programs that include cleaning and sanitation, personnel practices and plant maintenance.

The Safe Feed/Safe Food (SFSF) Certification Program is a voluntary, independently certified program designed for the total feed industry. The Safe Feed/Safe Food program establishes comprehensive standards of excellence that go beyond existing regulations to maximize food and feed safety. Excelling at every aspect of feed production is “Our Responsibility, Our Promise” to regulators, customers and American consumers.