BOCA RATON, Fla. — The J.M. Smucker Company presented an update on its business strategies and financials going into fiscal 2019 at the Consumer Analyst Group of New York (CAGNY) Conference Feb. 20, 2019. Pet food remains the company’s largest product category in terms of sales, and innovations and marketing investments will continue to support its pet food and snack brands, according to Mark Smucker, president and CEO of The J.M. Smucker Company.

Smucker explained the company’s four core brands – Smucker’s fruit spreads, Jif, Folgers and Milk Bone – are expected to have flat or slight net sales growth over the next five years. Overall net sales growth will be driven by its high-growth brands, which includes pet food brands Rachael Ray Nutrish and Nature’s Recipe, and is expected to result in a 2-3% increase over the same period.

Mark reported the company is “well-positioned” across its pet food, coffee and snacking platforms. It has homed in on two strategies for growing its pet brands: increasing distribution and innovation for its premium dog foods; and investing in marketing campaigns to reposition more mainstream brands to appeal to the modern consumer.

Sales of premium or super premium brands make up 64% of Smucker’s dog food net sales, according to Mark, due in part to the company’s acquisition of Rachael Ray Nutrish in April 2018. “This represents a significant shift in the size of our premium portfolio, which represented nearly half of dog food sales when we acquired the Big Heart business years ago. These brands, led by Nutrish and Nature’s Recipe, will continue to lead our dog food business with above-category growth over the next three to five years,” Mark added.

The company increased distribution for its Nutrish dog and cat foods to support growth of the brand, according to Mark. “Through accelerated growth in snacks and cat food, continued innovation and further distribution opportunities in dog food, including new varieties of Nutrish Peak, we have a clear line of sight to building Nutrish from approximately $600 million to a $1 billion brand in the next 5 years,” Mark said.

Meow Mix Bistro RecipesAs for marketing investments, the company launched a marketing campaign to develop new brand positioning for its Meow Mix brand, which yielded a 4% increase in consumption year-over-year since the campaign was launched. The company did not disclose the timeline of the campaign. “Building on the recent success for Meow Mix, we are also launching a new platform of grain-free items, allowing the brands to capture share in this growing segment of cat food,” Mark said.

While Smucker has not forgotten about its mainstream pet brands and will continue to update its marketing strategies around value-priced offerings to keep up with the market, its growth potential seems to be in premium.

“The over $30 billion pet category led by growth in the premium segment continues to be one of the fastest growing categories in retail, expanding at more than twice the center-of-store average. With pet now positioned as our largest business [segment], representing nearly 40% of sales, we have a strong portfolio of pet brands to capitalize on consumer trends,” Mark said.

Smucker’s revisited its overarching growth strategies during the conference, which are to lead in the best categories, build brands consumers love, and be everywhere. The company has taken steps to achieve these goals by focusing on its top three product categories — pet food, coffee and snacking — as well as investing in modern marketing initiatives, leveraging data capabilities and supporting growth of its e-commerce platforms.

The J.M. Smucker Company will report its third quarter earnings Tuesday, Feb. 26.

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