Case Study: How One Brand Uses an Invasive Species to Save the Environment and Help a Community

 

What if you could do what you love, while turning enough of a profit to be able to give back to your community, all the while helping to save the environment? As it so happens, BareItAll Petfoods is doing just that.

We recently spoke with Logan Honeycutt, President and Co-Founder to dig deeper on how he’s managed to pull off this seemingly impossible feat. Read on for the incredible story of how he was able to identify several key issues within his community, the environment and the pet industry as a whole and what he’s doing to fix it.

“My business partner and I started BareItAll Petfoods a year and a half ago with the intent of creating the highest quality pet foods on the market, but we knew that we didn’t want to be just another company that makes pet food,” Logan explains. “We wanted to have a higher calling than that. We wanted to make products that actually did some good in the world, and that is why we use Asian Carp as the main protein source in our goBARE line of dog treats.”

Asian Carp were introduced into the southern US in the 1960’s as a means to clean out commercial fish ponds. Due to flooding, the Asian Carp were able to escape into the Mississippi River and have been growing in population ever since. The reason this is a cause for concern is that these fish are actually terrible for the environment. Disrupting the natural food chain, Asian Carp over-consume the essential food sources needed for native fish species to grow. This is not only a detriment to the fish but to those trying to make a living as fishermen and ultimately, if this invasion is not tampered down, means the shattering of a $7 billion industry.

Tired of the rampant use of meaningless buzzwords and misinformation found in the pet food industry, BareItAll Petfoods is committed to doing better. Logan believes in taking the clean label concept up a notch and educating goBare customers.

“One of biggest trials that we have faced up to this point is general knowledge about what is healthy for pets,” Logan laments. “Many pet owners buy the same products for their pets that their parents bought when they were kids. Familiarity breeds contempt, so we are trying to shock people out of their comfort zone by using some very healthy, but somewhat exotic ingredients for pet food.”

While pet owners are certainly more receptive to change – 94% of all pet owners consider their pets as part of the family, after all – is that enough of an impact on the pet food industry, an industry that is mostly (80%) comprised of four main players, as a whole? Logan is skeptical.

“I believe that there hasn’t been a shift in the industry, but more of a shift in consumer sentiment. Some pet parents want to provide their animals with the healthiest products they can get, and are willing to spend money to do it. The industry is just following where the dollars go. Did we start a trend with utilizing Asian Carp in our pet products? We sure hope so, but not in the way you might think. For us, it’s more about helping pet parents realize that there are other better options out there for their pets.

“We want customers to start questioning exactly what they are feeding their pets, where did these ingredients come from, and what purpose are they providing for our pets? If one pet owner is now doing research to learn more about one of our ingredients, then we have done our job. One of our biggest focuses is on transparency to our customers about what is in our products, and why we are using it.”

A portion of all proceeds is donated to pet rescues through their BarkBack program. We had to ask: how does BareItAll manage to balance creating a fantastic product, saving the environment and all the while giving back to the pet community?

“It can be a little bit weird to have a for profit company with a clear goal for creating a sustainable solution to an environmental issue, but I mean weird in a good way,” says Logan. “We have to think differently about everything that we do. How does this new packaging impact the environment?  What is the carbon footprint needed to product this ingredient? What can we be doing through our everyday decisions that does something better for the environment? 

“We started our BarkBack program in order to give back to animal shelters that have accepted the responsibility to save these animals that we have made part of our society, but we have allowed to be cast to the side like garbage. We all have a responsibility to this earth, and the creatures that live in it. It is our fervent hope that people will join with us in creating change in both the environment, and how we treat those animals that live in it.”

As for any entrepreneurs looking to get into the pet industry, Logan has this to say:

“If you just love dogs that is a start, but you need to learn all of the aspects of the pet world because sometimes it can feel like you are swimming with sharks, and you are the bait.  Lastly, you have to expand your heart.  It’s easy to love your own pets, but what about that abandoned dog on the side of the road?  What about puppy mills practicing unsafe breeding practices?  What about the systemic euthanasia of shelter animals?  It’s a wide, scary, cruel world out there, and we need more dreamers that want to make some positive change.”