Take us back to the beginning a bit and tell us how Garmon Corp. and NaturVet came to be.
Scott Garmon: Garmon Corp. began back in 1994 when my wife, Traci, and I rescued our Labrador Winston, who was diagnosed with arthritis and hip dysplasia at a very early age. Several veterinarians recommended putting Winston down, but this was not an option for us. We began researching alternative solutions while working with a holistic veterinarian to develop an effective joint formula. We soon developed NaturVet ArthriSoothe-GOLD Advanced Joint Formula, which ultimately gave Winston a second chance at life, and he went on to enjoy 10 long, happy, healthy years.
Tell us about NaturVet’s product portfolio and what sets these products apart on the market.
Garmon: NaturVet is one of the only supplement companies that fits consumer needs for a wide variety of pet health products. Top-selling categories include joint health, skin and coat care, and calming aids. However, our catalog also encompasses yard care, training aids, digestive aids, heart health, advanced senior pet care, grooming, odor control, urinary tract health, immune support and allergy care. Products in each category are available in powders, liquids or soft chews to fit even the pickiest pets’ needs.
I am a co-founder and current board member of [National Animal Supplement Council] NASC. All NaturVet products are manufactured in our cGMP [current good manufacturing practice] facilities in Temecula, Calif. We focus on providing high-quality products, and customers know they can trust NaturVet’s product portfolio.
How has consumer interest in pet supplements evolved over the past decade? Is the pet supplements category continuing to gain momentum?
Garmon: Consumers have become more aware of health needs for their pets. This is due to an increase in veterinary care, better availability of higher-quality foods, and consumers continuing to view their pets as members of the family. This directly impacts the need for nutraceutical pet health products because consumers are now aware that pet food can’t provide everything the pet needs. Therefore, the entire supplement category is experiencing continued growth through all sales channels.
What consumer trends and demands are driving the category, generally speaking, and your company’s product development, more specifically?
Garmon: Aside from consumers becoming more aware of their pets’ health needs, they now focus on ingredient sourcing, recyclable packaging and seek out companies that give back to communities.
NaturVet recognizes these trends and has addressed them head on. We do source ingredients globally and are very transparent with a statement on all products that says, “Made in the USA with globally sourced ingredients,” and we’ve specifically identified our strict quality control practices on our website to ensure customers know they’re getting the highest-quality ingredients from the most reputable global suppliers. We were the first supplement company to move away from unrecyclable bags to cups and jars that are fully recyclable. And, we continue to support the NaturVet Foundation and pet rescues across the country.
The introduction of cannabidiol (CBD) and hemp products has shaken up the supplement category. What has been NaturVet’s approach to offering products in this category?
Garmon: NaturVet has watched the CBD category balloon from what seemed to be the Wild West to a well-regulated segment with very high-quality brands available. NaturVet does not have a CBD product line at this time. Instead, we focused on the addition of hemp seed oil into our top-selling products to enhance the products with the addition of omega fatty acids, plant-based protein and terpenes.
What other ingredients does NaturVet employ to create effective supplements for pets? What makes these ingredients effective?
Garmon: NaturVet’s catalog has just under 300 items with a focus on naturally derived ingredients. We focus on sourcing the highest-quality raw materials from around the globe and testing those ingredients in our state-of-the-art labs to ensure purity. Our team of nutritional scientists and formulators work directly with holistic veterinarians to ensure NaturVet products are effective at addressing pets’ needs holistically.
We were a first in the industry to expand our product selection to include soft chews. Our formulation team has perfected the soft chew inactive ingredients to effectively blend correct levels of active ingredients in a chewy, easy-to-feed supplement. Soft chews make supplementing easy for any size pet and are seen as a functional treat by many consumers.
Why should pet specialty retailers continue to market a wide range of supplements and not just CBD or hemp products?
Garmon: CBDs are not fix-all products. We understand that it’s important for stores to focus on educating consumers on why they would need CBD products and also cross-sell other supplements to complement the benefits of CBD products. For example, CBD products are great for any aches associated with joint pain; however, the products will not rebuild cartilage, ligaments or stimulate joint lubrication. It’s important to have products that address pets’ needs holistically. Or, if a customer feeds CBD oil on a daily basis as a calming aid, then it’s important for the store employee to help the customer understand what is causing anxiety for the pet and to address the root issue.
Has the supplement category evolved differently for the dog segment versus the cat segment? What do retailers need to know about curating the best possible selection for both types of animals?
Garmon: The dog supplement section has expanded to cover significantly more health needs than cat supplement sections. Cat supplements vary by delivery options within a few main health needs—hairball aids, lysine, urinary health and kitten milk replacers. Whereas the dog supplement section has recently expanded to cover traditional supplement needs such as fish oils, joint health, vitamins and digestive aids to now covering heart health, liver health, immune support and cognitive support.
Retailers should focus on meeting core health needs for both species to fit the allocated space for both dog and cat supplements. NaturVet suggests starting with joint health, digestive aids, skin and coat products, and calming aids. Additional categories should be introduced based on available space.
Do you have an overarching company mission that guides everything you do at NaturVet?
Garmon: Pets are our passion, and we understand the importance of a happy and healthy pet. Our mission is to develop and manufacture innovative products to ensure the superior quality of life all of our pets deserve. Additionally, our goal is to inspire health-conscious individuals to take responsibility for their pet’s health and well-being.
NaturVet is also dedicated to giving back through The NaturVet Foundation. Can you tell us more about that?
Garmon: Traci and I created The NaturVet Foundation, a charitable nonprofit organization, in 2005. The mission of the foundation is to help save the lives of homeless pets through community education by teaching compassion, proper care and love all for animals, and the importance of spaying and neutering. The foundation holds an annual golf tournament where all of the proceeds help fund field trips for elementary school children to local shelters, donations to rescue organizations, canine support teams and pet awareness programs. Additionally, a percentage of all of the NaturVet products sales are donated to the foundation to help support the mission of the foundation. Pets are our passion, and we are dedicated to making a difference in the lives of all pets.