Gary Hingst is EVP of Salix Animal Health, a leading supplier of dog chews. Pet Insight had the opportunity to talk with Hingst and discuss food safety, driving growth in the chews category and what’s on the horizon for Salix.
Pet Insight: Who do you see as your major competition?
Gary Hingst: In the competition for retail space, our competition tends to be products competing for space in the consumable treat arena. We offer longer lasting consumable treats which fall into one of three categories: Traditional Beefhide chew treats, Health & Wellness treats and treats with unique and innovative flavor profiles. Most companies offer products to fill one of these three sub-categories and all are viewed as competition for the ever-tightening space devoted at retail to this category.
PI: What new types of items, if any, will you begin producing this year?
GH: We are introducing new products that fall into the Unique and Innovative Flavor Profiles portion of the category. These products are a combination of Pork, Beef & Chicken with all ingredients being sourced and made in our food grade factories in South America. These products have been exceptionally well received and are being offered under our Good ‘n’ Fun brand.
PI: What would you say is your “flagship” product or line?
GH: Traditional beefhide treats are the foundation of our company. However, our unique and innovative combination chew treats under our Good ‘n’ Fun brand are quickly becoming the best-selling, fastest-growing long-lasting chews in the market.
PI: How was your company affected by the recession? What measures did they take to remain profitable?
GH: Like most companies, we were impacted by a weakened dollar, higher raw material costs and inflation in the countries in which we own factories. Fortunately, consumer demand remained stable and has increased this past 18 months. We were able to work through the challenges by being aggressive on costs and increased efficiencies.
PI: Are you satisfied with Salix’s online presence?
GH: Not at all. While we have made great progress in the development of our website, we still need to aggressively expand our online presence through various avenues including social networking and easy to access information that consumers desire in an effort to help them make better informed purchasing decisions.