Birdie & Louie: An innovative new entrant in the Pet Food category
Matthew Worthy, Vice President, Worthy
Worthy Promotional Products, headquartered in Wetumpka, Alabama, is known for products in five categories: cleaning, personal care, tabletop, household paper, and general merchandise. Now this family-owned company — one of the Inc. 5000 Fastest-Growing Private Companies in America — has added a sixth to that list. In July, the company launched Birdie & Louie, its first entrant in the pet food category. Progressive Grocer reached out to Vice President Matthew Worthy to learn more about the line and what makes it stand out from other products on the market today.
Progressive Grocer: Your family has been a leader in household cleaning and personal care products. How did you decide to get into pet food?
Matthew Worthy: We might be outsiders where pet food is concerned, but we are outsiders with expertise in an area that’s getting a lot of attention: the supply chain. We have a reputation as the company grocers can call to fix supply chain problems. So, when a large grocery chain came to us and said they couldn’t find good wet pet food, we decided to bring our expertise to the pet food category. We started with cat food because there was an urgency; there had been less cat food available in grocery stores during the past year or so. Since our cat food is tuna based, we visited Ecuador, the tuna capital of the world, found a manufacturer, and quickly put a deal together to source tuna for Birdie & Louie.
PG: How have you become the go-to company for grocers having a tough time keeping product on-shelf?
MW: Retailers had become addicted to low prices in China, so they were in a pickle in 2020 and 2021 because logistical issues coming out of Asia were chaotic. We worked with underutilized sources in Mexico for our consumer packaged goods, and bought a warehouse in Laredo, Texas — those moves enabled us to fill orders when others couldn’t. When we learned retailers were having trouble getting pet food (due to the fact most brands work with contract manufacturers typically located in Asia), we tapped our entrepreneurial spirit and stepped up to solve that supply chain problem, too. We also manufacture and distribute products from our Alabama headquarters and use the Laredo warehouse for supplemental importing and distribution. The fact we’re a family business that can manufacture, distribute, source, print and package gives us a big advantage where the supply chain is concerned.
PG: The Birdie & Louie line includes some unique products. How do the ingredients set your pet food apart? And why is that important for grocery retailers?
MW: Our goal was to make food with a limited number of simple ingredients, without fillers and additives. Our premium wet cat food formulas are all made with high-quality, human-grade tuna and essential vitamins and minerals. Our two basic flavors are Tuna Tuesday, our premium tuna formula, and Sunday Seafood with added shrimp. Our three creative options are Tuna and Papaya (papaya is good for combating hair balls); Tuna and Pineapple (pineapple is good for digestion); and Tuna and Olives (olives have a chemical makeup similar to catnip). And all varieties meet AAFCO standards for feline nutritional levels for a complete and balanced meal.
We have wet dog food in four flavors, too: Chicken & Veggies, Chicken & Turkey, Chicken & Rice, and Chicken & Salmon, all made with the same kind of premium ingredients and exacting standards.
This is important to retailers because 66% of U.S. households have at least one pet and that number is expected to rise: 65% of 18- to 34-year-olds, who are willing to spend a relatively high portion of their income on their pets, plan to acquire or add a pet in the next five years.1 That means many of these stores’ shoppers, and prospective ones, are in the market for pet food. And it’s a big market: The average annual household spending per pet could grow from $980 in 2020 to $1,292 by 2025 and to $1,909 by 2030.1 That’s a lot
of potential profit to add to the bottom line!
PG: Finally, is there anything in the pipeline you want grocers to know about?
MW: We’re working on dried food for cats and dogs ... stay tuned!
1 AlphaWise, the proprietary survey and data arm of Morgan Stanley Research