A Distributor’s Take on Why Pet Suppliers Should Unite As COVID-19 Challenges Continue

This article appeared on Pet Product News


The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has caused incredible disruption and uncertainty in our daily lives and future plans. We collectively face wide-ranging concerns, most importantly the health and safety of ourselves and our loved ones, including our pets.

With expanding shelter-in-place orders and moments of empty freezers and shelves in grocery stores, it’s no wonder many of us are worried about access to food. Food is a key factor in health and well-being. The same goes for our pets.

Two-thirds of U.S. households—85 million American homes—have a pet. The uncertainty brought on by the pandemic has led to panic buying among many pet parents. According to Nielsen, dog and cat food sales soared more than 50 percent compared to the same week in March last year.

A Resilient and Essential Industry

Grocery stores do not have the supply chain or capacity to stock what’s needed to keep pets happy, healthy and safe, especially during this unprecedented time. But, there’s no reason to fear that pets will go hungry. The pet food industry has a long history of resilience, and with a strong supply chain, infrastructure and relationships, it has been designated essential. We are very much open and operating.

Through the effort of thousands across the supply chain, we have weathered past storms and challenges to support pet parents. Manufacturers, distributors, and retailers will continue to work together to produce and deliver food and supplies quickly and safely.

As an essential business, we have the responsibility to operate with new processes and procedures to ensure the safety of our teammates. Safety, along with values such as integrity and accountability, are core to Animal Supply Co. Times of crisis are times to lean into values, not shy away from them.

That’s why, in addition to applying Center for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines across our organization, we’ve implemented extra safeguards in our warehouses and for our drivers. For drivers, these include placing products in a safe designated drop area, avoiding direct handling of payments, waiving customer signature requirements, separating and shrink-wrapping returned items and more. The safety of our teammates is our top priority, and we won’t compromise it.

We’re focusing on bringing our values to life and applying these measures—and many more—so we can keep working safely, retailers’ doors can remain open and pet parents can find what they need.

While there may be some delays in processing and delivery due to increased order volume, we will continue rising to the challenge. With so many anxieties brought on by this pandemic, having food and supplies for America’s pets and farm animals doesn’t have to be one of them.

Thank you to our drivers and warehouse workers, our customer experience representatives and administrative support teammates, our brand partners and our retail customers. Together, we’ll continue our essential mission to care for pets and the people who love them.

Don McIntyre is the CEO of Animal Supply Co., a distributor with headquarters in Irving, Texas. As CEO of Animal Supply Co., McIntyre oversees all aspects of the business. His work is guided by a “win-win-win” approach to the vendor-distributor-customer relationship. His past experience as a vendor in the food industry helps guide his insight into how to best connect the Animal Supply Co. brand and its retail partners.

This experience includes serving as president of Western Region as well as senior vice president of national supply chain and strategy for United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI). Prior to that, he served as president and CEO of Claridge Foods and also held several senior positions within subsidiaries of Sara Lee Corporation, including President and CEO of Sara Lee Coffee & Tea.