Jones Natural Chews Offers Plenty To Chew On
Six generations of expertise in the meat industry have proven to be a valuable asset to Jones Natural Chews—and to the dogs who love the company’s products.
Jones Natural Chews is a company steeped in history, run by folks who know the meat business inside and out. The company’s story began 16 decades ago in 1859 with a succession of meat cutters: Stephen Jones in Rome, N.Y.; Jay W. Jones, who moved to Clinton, Wis., in 1870; Jay E. Jones, who moved to Harvard, Ill., in 1902; and Robert M. Jones, who opened Jones Packing Co. in 1952 in Harvard, Ill.
In 1970, product focus took a different tack when Robert L. Jones founded Jones Locker Service as a small meat market with a smokehouse to provide custom butchering and smoking for local farmers in Woodstock, Ill. The best cuts of meat also produced the best bones, and word spread that Jones was the place to go for naturally baked dog chews.
By 1992, four of Robert’s children worked within the company and were eager to expand the company, which moved to Rockford, Ill., in 2005.
In 2010, the packaging and shipping department moved to a second Rockford facility, creating complete separation of raw and finished product. In 2013, the offices and packaging department moved into a third building, doubling the processing area.
Over the years, Jones Natural Chews has developed numerous types and sizes of chews and treats for all sizes of dogs and all types of chewers. According to Laura Jones, the company’s finance officer, all of Jones’ products are developed with careful testing for moisture levels, bacteria control and maximum shelf life. Of course, the true product testers consist of several different dogs ranging in size from 3 pounds to 150 pounds.
In July 2008, Robert and Darlene Jones retired, passing the reins on to their children. Darren Jones, vice president of product development, is a professionally trained smoked meat and sausage maker with more than 35 years of experience. Dean Jones, vice president of production, is a professionally trained butcher and sausage maker with more than 30 years of experience. Laura has been with Jones for more than 25 years. Suzanne (Jones) Madenis has more than 23 years of meat business experience and specializes in hazard analysis and critical control point inspection programs. Yet more Jones family members work within the company’s customer service, office management and accounting departments.
Natural Pet News caught up with Laura to find out more about Jones Natural Chews.
Natural Pet News: What can you tell us about Jones’ new products for 2016?
Laura Jones: We have an exciting new USA bully line, including three combination products, pork heart slices called Heart Breakers that are great for any size dog and a Frank N Woofer that is a combination of a chicken sausage link wrapped in a beef patty, also great for any size dog.
NPN: Customer education always is a priority for retailers. What does Jones do to help ensure its retail partners can deliver the most accurate information to its customers?
LJ: We offer direct sales training as well as point-of-purchase materials. Our labels feature information about choosing the right treat or chew—as well as recommended dog size—for the pet.
NPN: Are all of Jones’ products sourced and made in the U.S.?
LJ: All of our products are sourced and made in the USA. We purchase the raw material from large meat packers around the country, and it is delivered by truck, usually frozen.
NPN: Some of Jones’ products contain glycerin. What kind does the company use, and why?
LJ: We use a natural vegetable glycerin that is made from corn. It is a necessary ingredient in any product that we want to be softer in texture and can be found in our Tender Taffy chicken and beef liver blends and our soft link product.
NPN: Please talk about your manufacturing facility and how the company separates raw and finished product handling.
LJ: It’s important to have complete separation of raw and cooked products; our processing plant has three zones. The raw product is received and processed in one zone, it is cooked in another zone, and it is cooled and prepared for packaging in a third zone.
NPN: What Jones chews and bones do you recommend for different dog breeds?
LJ: It’s not the breed that is important—it’s their chewing style. Most Labradors are “soft mouthed,” and they can handle any beef bone, but a more aggressive chewer like a pit bull would require the harder beef bones, like a kneecap or a shank bone. Lamb and pork bones are softer bones and only should be given to small, nonaggressive chewers. While the bones should be considered carefully by chewing style, most of our treats are good for any size or breed.
NPN: What is the company’s best-selling chew and/or treat? Its top five best-sellers?
LJ: Our best-selling product is the 7-inch beef center bone. The top five chews include a 7-inch beef center bone, a beef dino bone, a beef slammer bone, a premium pig ear and a 4-inch beef center bone. The best-selling treats are the Big Paw Jerky and the Woofer (beef patty).
NPN: What plans does Jones have for the future?
LJ: We are currently working on two new innovative products. There is another building expansion in the near future as well.
This article originally appeared in the April 2016 issue of Pet Product News' special supplement, Natural Pet News.