ORRVILLE, OHIO — The J.M. Smucker Company highlighted the achievements and strategies behind its pet care portfolio during the Consumer Analyst Group of New York (CAGNY) 2021 conference. Pet care has grown to become the company’s largest product segment.

In the company’s fiscal year 2020, net sales of its pet food and snack products totaled $2.6 billion between its commodity, mainstream and premium brands.

Mark Smucker, president and chief executive officer, shared a “three-pronged approach” for the company’s pet portfolio, which includes momentum in the pet treat category, cat food brands and premium dog food. All three categories will be supported by increased marketing investments, he said.

“Our snacks portfolio has delivered year-over-year net sales growth in 13 of the last 14 quarters,” Smucker said. “To further increase the pace of growth, we are accelerating innovation and taking steps to capitalize on the premiumization trend.”

Innovations in this category include adding more premium products to the Milk-Bone brand, and expanding premium treat products for Rachael Ray Nutrish.

In the cat food category, Smucker reflected on 14 consecutive quarters of year-over-year sales growth led by Meow Mix, “which has the highest household penetration and volume share in the category,” he said.

“We are confident about continuing this momentum with a pipeline of unique innovation, leveraging digital tools, evolved marketing and promotional programs and improved assortment on shelf,” Smucker added.

The company hopes to bolster its dog food category by adjusting its portfolio to more closely match consumer demands, which include more grain ingredients and wet dog food options. Wet dog food sales for the company have been growing at a rate higher than 20% in all retail channels for the last two consecutive quarters, which exceeds the growth rate of its overall dog food category.

The company recently finalized its sale of Natural Balance, a premium brand of wet and dry dog food that had been lagging in sales performance for several consecutive quarters, to Nexus Capital Management for roughly $50 million.

The brand generated net sales of $220 million for Smucker’s fiscal year ended April 30, 2020. The company opted to divest the brand in order to focus on its most profitable core brands, including Rachael Ray Nutrish, Milk-Bone and Meow Mix.

“The divestiture reflects our strategy to direct investments and resources toward areas of the business that will generate the greatest growth and profitability,” Smucker said regarding the sale of Natural Balance.

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