Industry Profile Eden Holistic Pet Foods



Industry Profile: Eden Holistic Pet Foods
21st February 2018

By Sandra Pearce

Daniel (left), Megan and trade sales rep Simon George show off the company’s products. Retailers will be seeing much more of Megan and Simon this year

Eden Holistic Pet Foods was launched a few short years ago in 2012 and is creating waves and growing a loyal following among both pet owners and retailers. Its secret, it says, is simplicity…

Feeding cats and dogs does not have to be a complicated affair, said Daniel Coyne, business development coordinator at Eden Holistic Pet Foods. “One of our biggest selling points is simplicity. We have three dog foods in our 80/20 range, suitable for all dogs of all ages, which makes it easier for consumers. You do not have to change brands or foods, and there’s no need for lifestage products.
“Yes, people do question why there’s no puppy or senior product, but once we explain it to them, it makes sense. There is no such thing as having a ‘puppy chicken’ or a ‘senior chicken’. In the wild, mum and pup eat the same chicken.”

Pet owners are also getting more educated, said Megan Little, trade account manager. “They are starting to look into nutrition. People are looking at recipes and what’s in their food, and are now also looking at what their animals are eating. They are looking at the ingredients listed on the back, which is good.”

Having a ratio of 80% meat to 20% vegetables and fruit means Eden Pet Foods is the closest customers can get to raw food in a dry form, he said, which makes it very convenient for customers who want to feed raw but who find it difficult.
Megan said: “This is about having a quality food but being easy enough to feed.”

Brand building
Seeing demand grow, they decided to start selling the product to the trade but had to overcome the stumbling blocks of not having trade contacts. Daniel added: “It was really like reverse engineering. Most people already have a brand and presence in the market when they launch new products. We had to build up a base from scratch...we had the product, but now what do we do? Trade bodies like the Pet Industry Federation and PetQuip have been invaluable.”

The very first packaging (left) came in clear plastic bags

In the beginning, Eden’s food was offered in clear plastic bags. But they soon realised they had to change the packaging – for one, retailers were not too keen on taking on a brand that did not have bespoke brand packaging. Keeping the ethos of transparency at the front, they decided that all ingredients would be listed on the front – why should customers have to turn a bag over to see what’s in the food, asked Megan.

In these few short years, growth has been phenomenal – Eden now sells 130 tonnes of food a month, and from January 2017 to January 2018, has seen 47% growth in terms of numbers of bags sold against the previous year’s 22%. This, they say, is all down to their growing emphasis on independent retailers and the export market.

Sales are expected to double in 2018/2019, and although they’ve only been in the current site which has a warehouse of 4,0000sq ft for about three years, they are already looking for premises about three times bigger.

Many retailers have contacted them following customer requests, and a number of vets have also been in touch and some are now stocking the brand. This is all great, said Megan. “It gives us this chance to build a relationship because they want our food,” she said.

The family business has exhibited at Interzoo and Zoomark, and through these shows has secured distribution to 14 countries including Switzerland, Malta, Ireland, Spain and Poland, while attendance at PATS is helping spread awareness of the brand among UK retailers.

Warehouse employee Kris Wainwright

Eden also attends consumer shows, a highlight of which is Crufts. These shows give them a chance to talk to owners about the food and explain how it works and why.
“It is easier talking to people face to face and explaining then using online campaigns or visual ad campaigns. And we can then build that relationship.

People do like face-to-face contact and to meet the people behind the brand,” said Daniel.
Another driver for the company is social media, and its Facebook page has hit 10,000 likes. “It means we can keep communicate all the time with our customers, and let them know which shows we’re at. It makes communication with them so much easier,” said Megan.

Doing things differently
New product development is important, but anything that is brought to market has to be innovative and be value-added, said Megan. “In 2012, we were the first British company to go 80/20, and we have always tried to do something new. We’re also the first British company to have five stars on the allaboutdogfood website.”

So when some customers told them that their dogs were having trouble with hard kibble as they had poor teeth or were fussy eaters, Eden looked at the available technology and came up with a semi-moist recipe. This product has 10% higher moisture than the normal kibble, looks like a normal kibble, but is softer and easier to eat.

“We’ve also had people saying we need more cat food. So we are working on finalising the range and will have three 85/15 foods for cats with a slightly higher protein level as cats are obligate carnivores,” said Daniel.
The aim is to have two to three options in each range to attract more customers, but to also keep things simple.

Customer requests also led to Eden bringing out its three supplements. Daniel said: “Our food has everything you would need, but we started looking at what kind of issues pet owners might have, when their pets might need a bit of extra help, for example, with joints in an older dog.”
The result was three supplements (joints & mobility, skin & coat and digestive issues) and each uses a blend of supplements with herbs. So with the mobility supplement, while glucosamine and chondroitin are considered the norm, Eden includes herbs such as turmeric. The mixing of herbs and supplements is innovative,  said Daniel.

Visitors to Crufts will get to sample the latest launch – treats that can be fed to both cats and dogs

Visitors to Crufts at the NEC in March can also sample their latest launch when Eden unveils its range of five air-dried, 70% meat treats in venison, duck, lamb, white fish and salmon. The twist in this tale? The treats can be fed to both dogs and cats, and the packaging will say so. “We are very excited about this launch,” adds Megan. “In the wild, they eat the same things. It will make people think and give them a shake.”

Growing relationships
A main focus for Eden this year is to grow relationships with the independent. The pet food is already distributed to 265 retailers, ‘which is quite amazing because we have not targeted retailers’, said Megan. “We are stretching far and wide and want to really target retailers now. We want to make Eden more available to customers and want to increase our distribution via independents.”

Their largest stockist started off buying two bags of Eden every day (the company offers next-day delivery). “Every day he would call and place an order,” said Daniel. “Now he is our biggest retailer and buys four pallets at a time. We find that many start off placing small orders, but within a short time, orders go up.”

Support for retailers includes a wide range of Point of Sale material including samples and posters, banners for websites and A-boards, and nutritional advice and support. He said: “Retailers can ring up any time they have a nutritional query, and we also have training documents such as how to deal with pancreatitis or colitis. Samples are big in terms of getting customers to try the food and see the product. When we go to shows, we offer samples and explain the food. It gives customers a chance to try before they buy.”

Eden is also bringing out a poster this year that will show the cost per day of feeding its food. “It will cost around the £1 mark a day to feed a Labrador,” he explained. “Compare this to a Tesco meal deal for lunch for yourself each day. We are actually very economical to feed. If retailers get behind the brand, it will sell.”

Where it all began
The trigger for Eden’s foods came about when owners Paul and Carol Conquest (above), who breed Chihuahuas, lost one of their dogs. Their vet is a raw feeder and suggested they look at a different way of feeding their animals. Intrigued, they started looking into nutrition and were taken aback by the ingredients going into some pet food brands. Their interest stoked, Paul drew on his nutritional background and looked at what dogs should be eating (high meat, low carbs) and then created his own recipe.
Daniel said: “They started with the Original recipe in 2012, which featured a high-meat ancestral diet, low carb, no fillers or rice, and which was chemical and grain free.
“Being in the breeding and showing circles, they know many people with dogs, who when they heard what they were feeding their dogs, started asking for it as well. They were at the right place at the right time.”

Think outside the box
Eden Holistic Pet Foods has partnered with Keele University to offer a mentoring programme for its Masters students. Instead of doing a dissertation, students can choose to work in a consultancy capacity with a local company for 10 weeks.
Daniel was, in fact, a Master’s student when he opted to work with Eden and addressed issues of marketing, branding and social media. At the end, he was offered a full-time position.
He said: “The mentoring programme helps both us and the student. We give them an actual problem or scenario and they are helping us solve this, but are also learning about what the workplace is like in practice.
“We have always looked for advice and help where we can, and yes, there are government departments and trade bodies, but the university has been a big help. You can get someone from IT or wherever helping you on a project to analyse a particular area that you might have an issue with, and you then have professors advising you!”