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Fresh Pet Food Merchandising Tips And Tricks

high quality fresh pet food on plates image on the Due North website

What are the keys to a successful fresh pet food merchandising strategy? In this blog, we’ll present a Q&A session done by Randy Skyba, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, for the Trending: Pet Food podcast by Petfood Industry. Lindsay Beaton of Petfood Industry spoke with Randy about the fresh pet food boom which has happened in recent years, and what retailers can do to maximize sales and capitalize on the growing popularity of fresh pet food.

Q: What are the main differences, for retailers, when it comes to merchandizing fresh pet food and other types of pet food?

A: Honestly, most general merchandizing practices apply to both! Positioning product well, ensuring product is well-faced and easily accessible for consumers, and attractive presentation are aspects which apply to pet food whether it’s fresh or not. Visuals are everything, and a product unseen is a product unsold, generally speaking. Retailers must work to ensure that freezer space and placements are strategically planned and implemented, with high-priority products positioned at eye-level for consumers, and bright, clear lighting to ensure maximum visibility.

Q: Where should retailers be placing their freezer units for fresh pet food?

A: In an ideal situation, our glass door freezers should be one of the first things a customer sees upon entering the store. This ensures fresh pet food products are seen quickly and clearly and will live in the mind of the customer for as long as possible. However, we often see physical limitations prevent this ideal placement, and freezers are instead installed along walls. In our experience this also works well, and this placement is usually motivated by electrical requirements and the layout of any given store.

Q: What are the top challenges for retailers looking to sell fresh pet foods, and who does the responsibility fall on in terms of successful fresh pet food merchandizing?

A: The challenges, in a way, relate to the responsibility aspect, so we can explore that to understand how retailers are challenged when it comes to fresh pet food merchandizing. In my opinion, the market of today, with the explosion of fresh pet food options means that success has come to involve all parties which are part of the overall process: manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and refrigeration companies.

Ultimately, it is consumers who determine the continued success of retailers and the industry as a whole. To this end, success is achieved by manufacturer’s providing quality and healthy products, distributors maintaining a strong delivery network to ensure availability, retailers merchandising products effectively, and refrigeration companies offering high-quality solutions for retailers.

Nowadays, most retailers make use of glass door freezers, like those offered by Minus Forty, as they know consumers tend to resist solid door freezers due to an inability to directly see product offerings. Even with a high-quality glass door freezer, the retailer must properly lay out and stock product, and rely on their distributor to consistently provide the products they want to move, and beyond that they must rely on the manufacturer to make the best fresh pet food with the best, most attractive packaging, in order to succeed. So, in a sense these represent the four biggest challenges for retailers. They must rely on manufacturers, distributors, themselves, and refrigeration companies in order to provide the best experience for their customers.

Q: What are your thoughts on a brand having a freezer to themselves for their fresh pet food offerings, as opposed to multiple brands sharing one freezer?

A: In our experience multiple brands sharing one freezer is nothing new and is hardly ever an issue if merchandizing is planned out ahead of time. We have collaborated with countless retailers over the years who have had less freezers than brands of pet food, and it is almost always a nonissue or even beneficial to retailers, as they can test the viability of multiple products all at once. If a retailer knows there is immense demand for a particular brand or product and they have the necessary real estate, they could dedicate entire units to a single offering. In either case, Minus Forty-Due North is more than willing to work with retailers and address their unique situations and concerns to ensure the best possible outcome.

Q: Fresh pet food has grown a lot in recent years, and shows no signs of slowing down, what sort of strategies must be developed to address its ongoing growth?

A: To answer this, we’ll have to look at how fresh pet foods started in retail spaces. When fresh pet food first came about and started gaining traction, retailers were mostly reluctant to commit to offering new products and so looked for low-cost solutions like residential freezers or solid door freezers to stock them. Of course, this was suboptimal. Product could not be seen, and the freezers were unattractive eyesores in retail spaces.

When retailers who did believe in fresh pet food approached Minus Forty-Due North, they found that we understood the special refrigeration and merchandizing needs posed by this exciting new product. To match the growth of fresh pet food, retailers knew they had to step up their game, and purchase equipment that matched the demands of their stores. A fully stocked fridge failing could mean thousands of dollars in product being wasted, so avoiding disasters like this is essential for any retailer. Minus Forty’s line of glass door freezers are not only incredibly high-quality and energy efficient, but also come equipped with SmartConnect, technology built into the refrigeration units to monitor things like temperature and the status of doors being left open. Looking towards the future, retailers should look for high-tech options that could predict maintenance needs and reduce the risk of product loss.

To listen to the rest of Lindsay and Randy’s discussion, click here.

For more information about refrigeration considerations for fresh or frozen pet food, click here.

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