THE BRAVE & THE BOLD

for pooches Pro­duc­ing posh pet food

NZ Life & Leisure - - News - V ENE TI A SHE RSON WORDS

RAGLAN MATES DAVE Smith and Frank Bellerby thought they had bit­ten off more than they could chew when they launched them­selves into the pet food busi­ness two years ago. They knew they had a good idea, but bring­ing it to mar­ket proved prob­lem­atic.

The idea was to pro­duce a range of up­mar­ket pet cui­sine to meet the grow­ing de­mands of pet own­ers world­wide – es­pe­cially mil­len­ni­als – for pet food on a par with hu­man food. The men re­searched the global pet food mar­ket and worked with the Min­istry of Busi­ness, In­no­va­tion and Em­ploy­ment to iden­tify gaps and fore­cast trends. They set­tled on freezedried fresh meat, which main­tained the nu­tri­ent lev­els with­out han­dling prob­lems.

Ini­tially they chose pos­sum as a key in­gre­di­ent – high lev­els of omega 3 and fatty acids, plus the en­vi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fits of re­mov­ing a pest, which they re­garded a mar­ket­ing plus. “We built our busi­ness plan around it,” says Dave. But they couldn’t find a re­li­able sup­plier. Strat­egy re­cal­i­brated, they went for a mix of fresh lamb, chicken and wild honey. They named the prod­uct Good Noze.

The men brought dif­fer­ent skills to their busi­ness. Frank is an an­i­mal feed spe­cial­ist, so he fo­cused on giv­ing cus­tomers – the dogs and cats – a prod­uct they liked. Dave, who owns the Raglan Chron­i­cle, turned his at­ten­tion to mar­ket­ing. That’s where they met their sec­ond hic­cup: find­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing and pack­ag­ing com­pa­nies that could pro­duce ini­tial lowvol­ume runs at a price they could af­ford.

“We were com­i­cally up­beat. We thought we could achieve world dom­i­na­tion on a shoe­string bud­get,” says Dave. There were some sleep­less nights. He also says they were com­plete “mup­pets” as mul­ti­taskers. “We had to re­struc­ture our other busi­nesses to free up more time.”

Two things helped turn the cor­ner: They at­tended the New Zealand Pet Food As­so­ci­a­tion con­fer­ence where they sat next to a Waikato cou­ple with a food man­u­fac­tur­ing busi­ness pre­pared to do sam­ple runs for test­ing; and they chose stick-on la­bels for the pack­ag­ing – more labour-in­ten­sive, but less costly.

1.134 mil­lion cats; 683,000 dogs in New Zealand 2 years in the re­search and de­vel­op­ment stage 95% fresh meat $100,000

sales pro­jected in first year

Good Noze was launched early this year, and is stocked in New World su­per­mar­kets, vet clin­ics and up­mar­ket food stores.

El­e­va­tor pitch

Good Noze is pre­mium 100 per cent nat­u­ral pet food us­ing the best New Zealand in­gre­di­ents. From the art stu­dio to the farm and the man­u­fac­tur­ing plant, it has deep New Zealand roots.

Tail­winds

The men com­mis­sioned lo­cal artists and de­sign­ers for the prod­uct la­bels and the web­site. Dave says the Raglan com­mu­nity is ex­traor­di­nar­ily gen­er­ous. “When we needed help to paste la­bels on bags, we put a note on Face­book and cars streamed up the drive­way with peo­ple wish­ing to lend a hand.”

Head­winds

The unit cost for small man­u­fac­tur­ing runs of the prod­uct and pack­ag­ing was pro­hib­i­tive for a start-up. “Our pock­ets weren’t deep.” They weren’t pre­pared to com­pro­mise on in­gre­di­ents, which was their point of dif­fer­ence, so they had to look at other ways to save costs. They have fi­nanced the ven­ture in­de­pen­dently through their re­spec­tive busi­nesses, but will se­cure more in­vest­ment as the busi­ness ex­pands.

What next?

Ex­pan­sion into the ex­port mar­ket, par­tic­u­larly Asia, is planned for next year. They aim to pro­duce 20 tonnes per month for the New Zealand mar­ket and ex­port dou­ble that within the next five years.

Frank and Dave: Mates with a cause.

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