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Tyson Foods, Inc. and Freshpet yesterday formed a strategic alliance focused on expanding the delivery of refrigerated fresh pet food products to consumers.
“The alliance between Tyson and Freshpet will meet changing consumer needs by providing real food for pets -- not ‘pet food,’” said Scott Morris, Freshpet co-founder. “We believe these products will redefine the category and change the way people think about feeding their pets. The Tyson-Freshpet alliance is founded on an alternative nutritional ideology that pet owners should have the option of feeding their pets a high-quality, less-processed, meat-based diet with vegetables and whole grains.”
Springdale, Ark.-based Tyson will have a minority investment in Freshpet. The alliance will combine Tyson’s fresh food knowledge, expansive refrigerated distribution network, product innovation skills, and supply of meat and poultry with Freshpet’s extensive pet food experience and market knowledge. Their goal is to rapidly expand this new refrigerated segment of the pet food category.
“Freshpet foods are of such high quality -- they are the next best thing to setting a place for your pet at the table,” said Lon Schwake, pet food category manager for Schnucks, a St. Louis-based retailer with grocery stores and pharmacies in seven states. “We started with a pilot program in a handful of stores and now, thanks to a terrific customer response, we are carrying Freshpet in 63 stores (primarily across the St. Louis region). In a short period of time, three of the items are now among the most popular pet food items we carry.”
Secaucus, N.J.-based Freshpet developed a line of fresh refrigerated dog food and treats under the Freshpet Select and Deli Fresh brands in 2006. Both brands are meat based with vegetables and brown rice and are gently cooked. The foods and treats are all refrigerated, ready to eat, and sold in grocery and pet stores across the United States and Canada.
“This is a natural extension of Tyson’s experience in making innovative refrigerated protein products for families,” said Jeff Webster, group VP of Tyson’s Renewable Products Division. “A growing number of people consider pets a part of the family and want to feed them high-quality food that’s closer to what they eat themselves.
“Tyson is capitalizing on this trend,” continued Webster. “We believe Tyson’s ability to leverage its food knowledge and assets to bring fresh, refrigerated products to this member of the family will bring innovation not previously seen in the pet food category. The initiative is also consistent with Tyson’s strategy of creating new businesses that leverage our existing assets.”