Tuffy’s Pet Foods explains why it pulled its products off Chewy.com

vivadmin/ August 23, 2017/ News

The Business Journal caught up with Tuffy’s national sales manager Dan Schmitz to learn how the company’s decision to sever ties with a fast-growing online retailer has played out.
Three distributors of premium pet foods have pulled their products from Chewy.com since the Dania Beach start-up became a subsidiary of PetSmart in the largest e-commerce buyout in history.

Tuffy’s Pet Foods, a subsidiary of the family-owned, Minnesota-based company KLN Family Brands, was the first to pull the plug. Just days after PetSmart announced its agreement to acquire Chewy, Tuffy’s issued a statement that announced it would part ways with Chewy. Premium pet food companies Fromm Family Foods and Champion Petfoods have since followed suit.

The Business Journal caught up with Tuffy’s national sales manager Dan Schmitz to learn how the company’s decision to sever ties with a fast-growing online retailer has played out.

Tuffy’s statement, issued in late April, alludes to the loyalty that exists among specialty pet food distributors and retailers as their industry continues to evolve and shift toward consolidation and mass production. What has driven that dynamic?
The big-box stores have large marketing dollars available to them. When we started, we decided that what was going to set us apart would be the quality of our food. We don’t have a large advertising department – we’re nothing like Nestle or Purina or any of those folks – so we rely on pet-specialty retailers to promote our food and show the results our food can give. We were successful because our product truly worked … and independents felt comfortable selling it. It’s always been a priority to maintain these relationships.

Why are these best practices important to pet owners?
In the last 10 years, the humanization of pets has reached a new level. It’s more of a lifestyle for pet parents, rather than an inconvenience, where they have to go out and buy a bag of kibble at the store. Whether it’s the blogs or the social media or what have you, research into pet foods has certainly been elevated. There’s more education. That evolution has been critical to our success.

How was the decision to pull Tuffy’s products from Chewy.com made?
This was the sequence of events: I received an email from my contact at Chewy that they were going to be obtained by PetSmart. That immediately resulted in a meeting with ownership. The recommendation by myself was to terminate that relationship immediately because the retailer that was going to be owning Chewy does not fit into the profile of retail partner that we favour.

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