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Pet Retailers Attend Panel Discussion on Selling ‘Green’ Products
Posted: Tuesday, May 25, 2010, 6:07 p.m., EDT

More than 100 retailers attended a green retailing panel discussion held at H.H. Backer’s 22nd Annual Pet Industry Spring Trade Show.

The discussion, entitled “Going Green: What You Need to Know about Selling Natural & Organic Products,” focused on what retailers should know about selling eco-friendly, natural and organic products. Panelists included Brad Allen, vice president and general manager of Three Dog Bakery in Kansas City, Mo.; John Phillips, president and CEO of Wholistic Pet Organics in Bedford, N.H.; John Melville, president and co-owner of Biddiscombe International/Southpaw Naturals of St. Petersburg, Fla.; Tom O’Leary, the canine wellness advocate for Green Dog Naturals by Rainbow Light of Santa Cruz, Calif., and Lisa Weikle, national sales manager for Topline Inc. of St. Louis Park, Minn.  Kristen Levine, founder and president of public relations firm Fetching Communications, moderated the discussion.

A large portion of the discussion centered on organic products. Phillips said certified organic products must be produced and processed in accordance with standards set forth by U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program. Labeling requirements are based on the percentage of organic ingredients in a product. Panelists suggested retailers familiarize themselves with the program and national organic standards.

Panelists agreed it’s important for retailers to educate their consumers on the benefits of natural and organic products and why they may cost more. Weikle suggested using Facebook and other social marketing tools to educate consumers on the subject. Allen added that merchandising is an important factor to consider.

“If they see you’re not making a commitment, it sends a strong signal that it’s not a viable category,” Allen said.

When it comes to being green, panelists said ingredient selection is only part of the picture. Retailers should also consider other efforts companies might be making to be sustainable, such as using recyclable paper for catalogs or using soy-based inks on packaging, they said.

Panelists suggested retailers initiate a conversation about the subject with their suppliers.

For example, O’Leary suggested a retailer say: “I’m glad you’re using green ingredients. Tell me what else you do that’s sustainable.” <HOME>

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Pet Retailers Attend Panel Discussion on Selling ‘Green’ Products

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