Sales Are Pecking Up as Bird Owners Look for Best Products
Bird food manufacturers seek out the best products to produce. Bird owners look for the best foods to keep their pets healthy and happy. Here’s the lowdown on where the two are meeting now.
Many customers are more educated now in regard to the importance of diet and nutrition and the role both play in their birds’ health, said Rhonda Olson, owner of Rhonda’s Aviary Inc. in Milton, Fla.
“They’re looking for products that have no artificial colors, that are organic and have no preservatives,” she said. “Brands that have less colors like the new Higgins InTune [Natural Diet] pellets.”
Olson said that she carries InTune pellets because they have a good aroma and the pellets’ coloring comes from natural sources, such as spinach and beet juice, rather than dyes. This caters to customers’ increasing requests for less-processed and less-artificial ingredients.
Natural ingredients Higgins Premium Pet Foods uses include bananas and citrus fruits for aroma, and turmeric and annatto seeds to give the food a natural flavor, according to the Miami-based company. DHA and omega-3 fatty acids, along with vitamins E and C, are added to support birds’ immune function and health.
Avian Food With Less Filler
Following the same trend of consumers moving toward more healthful bird food, Andrea Tilley, store manager of Feathered Follies in Concord, Calif., used Higgins’ cooked brand, Worldly Cuisines, as an example.
“Customers are leaning more toward natural products versus the filler products,” she said.
Feathered Follies carries this brand because it doesn’t list corn or soy, which are traditional bird food fillers, in the first few ingredients, she said, adding that the Higgins cook-and-serve product provides more nutritionally complete ingredients, including peas and quinoa.
Some Worldly Cuisines products might contain smaller amounts of corn, according to the company, but they also contain organic couscous along with apples, cranberries, dates, tomatoes and kelp.
Avian Food With No Fillers
According to Sue Brown, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Sinking Springs, Pa.-based F.M. Brown’s Sons Inc., the company’s customers demand more natural and well-balanced bird foods, and its products contain no fillers such as wheat or soy.
“We have noticed more and more consumers feeding extruded diets to their birds, and we wanted to make sure that when we developed one that we were producing the best in the market,” she said. “Customers seek out this product and flood our help line with questions on how to locate our fine Tropical Carnival avian products.”
“Our newest avian diet is Tropical Carnival Zoo-Vital Extruded Diets,” Brown continued. “These extruded scientific blends are formulated specifically for the dietary needs of pet birds. They contain no corn, wheat or soy, meaning they contain no harmful allergens or contaminants that can be toxic to birds. Gluten-free whole-grain brown rice is used in place of other grains, providing a nutritious food base that does not mask the flavors of the other ingredients. Fruits, nuts and veggies contained in each blend are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and omega fatty acids that promote excellent nutrient absorption, help maintain proper digestion and support a healthy immune system.”
Senior Bird Nutrition
Lafeber Co.’s Senior Bird Nutri-Berries is made specifically for aging birds, said Jenny Lyons, executive vice president of the Cornell, Ill., company.
“We added ingredients to our Senior Bird line such as milk thistle for its anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic effect, as well as dandelion to support bone health and improve liver function,” Lyons said. “Senior Nutri-Berries is packed with real pieces of age-defying fruits like cranberries, plums and dates.”
Along with new products, manufacturers are looking to packaging when it comes to marketing avian food.
Nature Pet Centre
Manufacturers are stepping up bird food packaging to make it more eye catching, unique and easy to find on shelves.
Kaylor of Colorado’s Sweet Harvest line associates a color with a type of bird species to help customers recognize food bags, said John Farrell, sales and marketing manager for the Greeley, Colo., company.
“We updated our package to be more eye catching,” Farrell said. “The standard in the industry had been just those clear plastic bags that you slap a label on the front and the back. We decided to go a step further and really put some artwork on those bags. The different-colored bags reflect the different birdseeds—canary, parakeet, cockatiels. It will be very easy for customers to walk in and spot it on the shelf.”
In-Person and Digital Social Sales
Social media and videos are an effective marketing tool for selling bird food, said Olson from Rhonda’s Aviary.
“I also took [videos of] my store birds, which are pretty popular in the area because they’re fun; they really love the public,” she said. “I put my talkative Amazon on the play gym, and I put the Tropican pellets in his bowl and I ask, ‘Rosco, what do you think about the new Tropican?’ Rosco says, ‘Oh, that’s good! Look at that!’ Then I say, ‘Rosco approved; looks like we’ll be buying more Tropican.’ I put [the video] up on Facebook, and so many people came in because Rosco liked it. They want to see if their birds like it, too.”
Along with selling products directly, social media can help sell through information or “soft selling,” said Brown of F.M. Brown’s Sons, adding that giving products to existing customers who likely have friends and family with similar pets can provide indirect advertising.
“In one instance a woman shared with us how much she liked our products for her birds and small animals, and that she would not buy anything else,” Brown said. “She mentioned that she is a student and currently is working two jobs so that she can purchase the food for them. I sent her a care package of items for her pets, and she was so happy. She posted a picture of her pets eating the products, and we received many likes on that.”
Tip: Leveraging Food Sales Based on Species
One novel way to sell more bird food to customers is to recommend food based on the species’ innate food preference, said Jamie Whittaker , co-owner of ABC Birds in Humble, Texas.
“I always ask [customers] what kind of bird they have,” Whittaker said. “People who have birds are always happy to talk about their pets. If somebody has a quaker [parrot], I’ll always ask whether they’ve tried pumpkin seeds as a treat. If [customers] tell me they have an African grey, I’m not going to suggest that they buy pumpkin seeds. With a grey, you can ask customers if they eat almonds. Different species have slightly different dietary preferences as a group. Then I can make [food] suggestions based on that bird.” —TH
This article originally appeared in the April 2015 issue of Pet Product News