As part of of the 2021 C&I Industry Leaders Forum, Jonathan Morley, Head of Sales, Nestlé Purina, tells us what has led to a boom in demand for pet food and accessories, and why consumers are trading up to more premium products.

C&I: Highlight one achievement at Nestlé Purina that you’re particularly proud of over the past 12 months.

Morley: The biggest thing that made me proud was how we have adapted as a team to the change in environment with COVID-19 and embraced flexible working. I have also found that through many challenges we have pulled together to be a stronger team both in the office and our field sales team. The pet industry has gone through a significant transformation in the last 12 months with a lot more pets, which is now translating into a lot more demand for pet food and accessories.

C&I: What do you enjoy most about convenience and what is one challenge you’d like to see addressed in the industry?

Morley: The diversity of the offer in convenience is always very exciting and I often take the opportunity to try new products. I think the digital transition for shopping is a huge opportunity for the industry and embracing the change and finding ways to capitalise on this will be an industry wide challenge. Diversifying the offer will be a key way to gaining more local shoppers who want to buy a broader range of categories and top up their grocery and pantry items.

C&I: What is the primary focus for Nestlé Purina in 2021?

Morley: Business continuity as we normalise our operations following a huge change from COVID is still a primary focus for us, however expanding our distribution and developing new channel specific packs and products are also a major focus. Over the last 12 months we developed a single pouch offer for our Felix brand, this is a great way to attract more shoppers into the brand by having a lower barrier to entry vs our 12-packs. We have also developed a smaller pack size for our Supercoat brand, which we think is ideal for the convenience channel and is now available.

C&I: How do you envision the next six months for convenience retail?

Morley: As people start to travel more and return to more days at work I think there will be a benefit for both the petrol and convenience stores and inner city convenience stores. Given the lower base from last year I think this will create a lot of growth, and from that, I am sure there will be a lot of interest from suppliers who have not previously had a focus on this channel and will see it as a growth opportunity creating more options and chance for investment.

C&I: Is there anything else happening with Nestlé Purina that you’d like to highlight?

Morley: We have been enjoying a consistent growth over the last few years as we position our portfolio to align with the growth trends. There is a huge shift away from traditional products like multi-serve larges cans of wet food to things like pouches. The other clear trend is the propensity for people to trade up into more premium products. Pet food is no longer a functional item, consumers now want the best quality they can get to look after their pets in the best way they can so ensuring you have a premium pet food choice is a key opportunity for increased sales and profit.

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