With a pet-first mentality, Ainsworth Pet Nutrition aims to consistently provide animals with high-quality foods.
By Bianca Herron
Ainsworth Pet Nutrition believes in families—whether they have two legs or four. The Meadville, Pa.-based company was founded more than 75 years ago by George Ainsworth Lang, with a commitment to providing dogs and cats with the safest, highest quality foods.
Since its start in 1933, the Meadville, Pa.-based company has always made affordability for its consumers, also known as “pet parents,” a key priority of Ainsworth. Lang launched the company after one of his dogs had a litter of puppies. It was during the Great Depression and he started making his own dog food to feed the pups. Little did Lang know it would turn into a thriving business.
Today, the company is proud to continue upholding that tradition with the launch of two new projects in 2017 from Rachael Ray™ Nutrish®, Vice President of Marketing Steve Joyce says.
“We will be launching Peak™, a new dry dog food line that is meat first, grain free, contains 30 percent protein, and includes novel proteins like venison, duck and quail,” Joyce says. “We will also be launching a line of fun, tasty, meat-first treats that include Deli Cuts™, Savory Roasters™, Meatloaf Morsels™, Burger Bites and Pawsta™ formulas. Consumers can look for these new products at their local retailers, or online, starting in the first quarter of next year.”
Rachael Ray™ Nutrish® is an Ainsworth owned and developed brand that was launched in collaboration with Rachael Ray in 2008. “In 2007, a colleague at an Ainsworth sister company was watching a late night TV talk show where Rachael was discussing just how much she loved her pit bull, Isaboo,” Joyce explains. “That colleague was able to track down Rachael’s husband and the rest, as they say, is history.”
The brand has since been responsible for much of the company’s growth in recent years, accounting for $300 million in consumption in 2015, according to Joyce. Adding that, Ainsworth’s collaboration with Rachael Ray is extremely important, not only because the partnership has helped the company offer wholesome, meat-first foods to dogs and cats everywhere, but also because consumers know the nutritious-minded celebrity chef is someone they can trust.
“Rachael is someone who cares deeply about food, nutrition and animal well-being,” Joyce says. “In fact, through 2016 Rachael’s Rescue, an organization that supports shelters and treatments for animals in need, will have donated more than $16 million to animal causes via the sales of Rachael Ray Nutrish.”
A Growing Litter
From 1933 until 2000, Ainsworth produced only one brand, Dad’s Pet Food. That changed when the company recognized the new generation of pet parents wanted to know what was in their pet’s food and gravitated to more natural cuisine with fewer artificial preservatives. In addition to that, according to Joyce, the company found that its consumers who wanted wholesome food on their dinner table would want the same for their dog’s bowl.
Ainsworth’s pet-first mentality has since spurred rapid growth over the past 15 years. First, Ainsworth added Better Than! snacks and in 2007 and 2008 made a deal with Rachael Ray to develop Nutrish pet food, which are high quality, natural and offer essentials vitamins and minerals.
Those moves proved successful as Ainsworth grew from a regional company to a national supplier of pet food serving grocery and mass retailers, including Walmart, Target, Amazon and Kroger.
After researching diets traditionally found in specialty pet stores only, Ainsworth found that it could offer a high-quality alternative at the supermarkets and grocery stores where consumers did most of their shopping.
“We have created multiple lines of products, including those that feature real meat as the first ingredient and contain no poultry by product meal,” Joyce says. “Our Zero Grain™ offerings are completely grain free, and our dish™ recipes feature meat first, contain no corn, wheat or soy, and include whole food inclusions, like real pieces of chicken and vegetables. Any time we develop a new product idea, we share that idea with Rachael and her team for feedback.”