BOZEMAN, MONT. and BERKELEY, CALIF. — As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to hinder the ability to host in-person events and industry trade shows, pet food, treat and supply companies alike are coping with the impacts by bringing exhibitions directly to their clients and consumers – virtually.
Two companies, West Paw and Jiminy’s, announced virtual trade show experiences this week, with West Paw’s event scheduled for Aug. 24-28 and Jiminy’s being an ongoing effort.
West Paw is inviting retail partners and prospective buyers, as well as pet industry press, to attend its virtual trade show to see the brands new products. The company will provide information about its pet portfolio, give a digital tour of its factory floor in Bozeman, and air a series of short videos about West Paw and its products.
West Paw’s virtual trade show will be a self-paced experience.
“At West Paw we have the opportunity to do this in a unique way by leveraging our ability to be all under one roof and give our customers a peek inside the West Paw facility where we design and manufacture our products,” said Andy Wunsch, vice president of sales and marketing for West Paw.
Jiminy’s is offering a similar virtual experience for buyers and pet parents with its own online trade show experience. The company launched its first two insect-based dog food products back in March, right as the pandemic hit the United States.
"Strange times can sometimes force a different approach," said Anne Carlson, founder and chief executive officer of Jiminy's. "Usually, this is the time of year that we’d be meeting retail teams and sharing details about Jiminy’s new sustainable dog food and treats. It goes without saying we’ll miss the opportunity to say hi face-to-face, hear stories, and learn ways that we can be better partners."
Once registered for Jiminy’s virtual trade show, attendees can peruse details about the company and its philosophy, its new products and existing treats, and the benefits of formulating with insect protein, as well as schedule meetings with company representatives. Jiminy’s has hosted several videos and PDF documents on its trade show homepage.
The products — Cricket Crave and Good Grub — feature cricket protein powder as a sustainable meat alternative and are also hypoallergenic. According to Jiminy’s cricket farming requires 93% less land, 2,300-times less water and 83% less feed than livestock farming, making it a sustainable nutrition option for dog owners.
"We designed our virtual trade show booth so that the viewer can choose where they want to skim vs take a deep dive," Carlson said. "We think it is important that the retailers can interact with us on their own terms — any time of day they can request more information, get samples, and / or schedule a Zoom call — we tried to make it as easy as possible to engage.
"One of the things I’m particularly excited about is the potential to use this content for training in-store teams," she added, "As we move beyond COVID, I'm thinking of it as an education hub for our retail partners."
These two companies aren’t the only ones offering virtual resources in lieu of in-person exhibitions. The World Pet Association (WPA), organizer of SuperZoo, in July announced the launch of WPA365, a year-long virtual marketplace tool where pet industry brands can exhibit to vendors and retailers online to drive sales and increase brand visibility.
SuperZoo 2020, initially scheduled for September 2020, was canceled in June with regards to public health and safety concerns amid COVID-19.
Several associations have also adapted their previously in-person events to virtual formats, including Pet Food Alliance’s Fall Meeting (which was initially scheduled in the spring), the annual Food Safety Summit by Food Safety Strategies, and the American Bakers Association (ABA) 2020 Technical Conference.
Stay up to date on pet industry event cancellations and adjustments with our Pet Industry Event Tracker.