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Pets in the pandemic open opportunities for Bay of Plenty producer

A Te Puke-based pet food producer is preparing for an influx in demand for its products as the pandemic puts pressures on global supply, national pet numbers increase, and market trends push consumers towards higher quality, wholesome pet food.

Local brand, Wishbone Pet Foods, entered North Island supermarkets this month, saying demand is extremely high and this has led them to recruiting more staff and making plans to expand their production lines, the company said in a statement.

Wishbone Pet Foods New Zealand Sales Manager, Paul Mansfield said their xa product has only been on supermarket shelves for a few weeks and already they’re being asked to supply more.

“We’ve just landed on the shelves of New World and Pak n Save and our future orders from the supermarkets’ keep increasing. It’s fantastic to see and shows just how high the demand is out there for our gourmet products,” he said.
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Wishbone Pet Foods exports its small batch, artisanal pet food to 15 countries around the world, all from its Te Puke factory.

Supporting local

“One thing this pandemic has proven to us all, is just how important supporting local is – not just for the business, but more importantly, the wider community.

“We partner with farmers around New Zealand to supply our pasture-raised, grass-fed beef and lamb, making sure we work particularly closely with Bay of Plenty farmers to keep it as local as possible.”

New Zealand has the second-highest rate of pet ownership in the world. With 64 per cent of households owning at least one pet – with approximately 70 per cent of those owning either a cat or dog – our total pet population is nudging close to our human population, at 4.35 million.

According to Companion Animals NZ, this number continues to grow along with the rest of the world as New Zealanders seek comfort from their cats and dogs during the pandemic. This has placed pressure on pet food suppliers, which has recently made headlines in New Zealand for international shortages.

Overseas demand

Demand from overseas is also increasing the demand for Wishbone Pet Foods products as pet owners become more aware of the importance of natural ingredients for their cats and dogs, creating a big market opportunity for food producers.

“Our overseas markets are looking for a natural product that they can trust. Every bag of Wishbone is made with eight superfoods and cooked at lower temperatures to preserve beneficial enzymes, vitamins, and minerals and that’s something we’re proud to be delivering,” said Mansfield.

“All our food is gently air-dried in small batches. This ensures not only the nutrients in each ingredient are retained but it also seals in the real, wholesome flavours of our local ingredients. The process makes it more nutritious and appealing for our pets.”

A recruitment campaign to attract young talent is currently underway, allowing Wishbone and its co-brands to increase production and capture more opportunities. New production lines are expected to be in place at the Te Puke factory by the end of this year.

The Te Puke factory is the largest and most technologically advanced dry pet food plant in New Zealand.

During the pandemic, the company has also ramped up its support of animal shelters and has donated 3,000kg of pet food valued at $40,000 to Help Us Help Animals (HUHA) – enough to fill 12,000 bowls.

Read: $40m Kiwifruit Packhouse & Coolstore boost planned For Te Puke

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