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Two Mars Brands Now Exclusive to Independent Pet Retail


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Mars Petcare announced that two superpremium brands it acquired through its 2014 purchase of Procter & Gamble’s pet food business, California Natural and Evo, now will be sold exclusively through independent pet specialty retailers in the U.S.

In this case for Mars, independent pet specialty means no big-box pet stores such as PetSmart and Petco and no ecommerce, said Brad Locke, Mars’ marketing director.

“We are hoping this becomes a model for the entire industry, because we think it’s essential to the industry’s long-term health for the independent pet channel to be strong,” he added.

Essentially a relaunch of the brands, the new positioning included a luncheon meeting with more than 150 independent pet retailers during Global Pet Expo in Orlando in March. Locke acknowledged that some retailers expressed concerns and skepticism about Mars’ intentions, considering that the brands originally were developed and market by Natura Pet Care as independent pet channel exclusives, but after Procter & Gamble’s acquisition of Natura in 2010, the exclusivity was inconsistent. The brands also suffered a series of recalls in 2013.

Locke said Mars will address the concerns by its actions, including offering significant support to retailers, such as point of sale and other promotional materials, education of store employees and tours of the Fremont, Neb., plant where the brands’ products are made.

Evo was one of the first “ancestral” pet diets on the market and includes grain-, gluten- and potato-free dry and wet formulas for dogs and cats. California Natural features limited ingredient diets for dogs and cats.

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