In an FMCG industry dominated by multi-national conglomerates that have long established their dominance, it seems almost irrational to think that a small, family-run company on a tiny island in the Mediterranean could challenge the status quo. Yet, against all odds, Malta’s very own Pet Nutrition House has not only dared to compete but has emerged as a frontrunner in the battle against low-quality, cheaply produced pet foods.

In 2010, Pet Nutrition House made a bold decision to offer pet owners a higher quality alternative to the prevailing products flooding the international pet food market. Their unwavering commitment to delivering exceptional nutrition to our furry companions was initially met with scepticism and adversity. After all, how could a modest company from Malta hope to rival the industry giants that had established their reign decades ago?

But Pet Nutrition House has defied expectations. Their success stems from a tireless pursuit of excellence driven by meticulous research, a relentless quest for the finest ingredients and raw materials, and a promise to back their animal nutrition claims with scientific rigour.

The result? A remarkable range of dog and cat food products, through their Prince and Princess brands, that have set new benchmarks in the pet food industry. In a mere span of 13 years, they have conquered the hearts (and palates) of discerning consumers, one loyal customer at a time. Bolstered by strategic partnerships with international distributors that share their ethos fora better standard of pet food, Pet Nutrition House has managed to expand its operations to an astounding 85 markets worldwide.

Sean Wismayer / Photo by Inigo Taylor

“As a family deeply passionate about our pets, we understand the desire of pet owners to provide only the very best for their beloved companions. That’s why we make substantial investments in research and development, ensuring that our products are not only nutritionally sound but also innovative in their formulation,” explains Sean Wismayer, who oversees operations at his family’s company.

In the pet industry, it is common for multinationals to prioritise palatability and cost reduction, often utilising ingredients like rice and grains as their primary component. However, dogs and cats lack the digestive capacity to derive proper nutrition from such ingredients. Wismayer explains that Pet Nutrition House instead places focus on its first ingredient being high-quality meat. The impact of this approach is evident in the pets themselves, whose improved coats, skin, behaviour, and overall well-being reflect the exceptional quality of the company’s offerings.

This year Pet Nutrition House is set to expand its range of pet food offerings with a new line of locally produced Prince and Princess Blue Fin Tuna Training Treats. This anticipated addition to their product line has been meticulously produced, undergoing an exhaustive 10-month journey from inception to market launch. Throughout the process, the team has conducted a comprehensive array of scientific studies and robust internal and external research to identify the finest raw materials for these treat products.

“Our extensive research led us to discover that tuna is not only highly palatable but also boasts an exceptional omega 3 and 6 content, making it an incredibly valuable raw material. While it is undoubtedly an expensive choice, we firmly believe that its quality and benefits will appeal to consumers, who are increasingly turning to pet foods with a higher nutritional value. Also, by incorporating active local ingredients found within the Mediterranean diet, we are pushing the boundaries of what’s locally available to us. In fact, we are the only factory in the world currently utilising bluefin tuna as a raw material in pet food products,” Sean says with a genuine note of pride.

The new range features other locally available active ingredients, such as carob, olive leaf, prickly pear, and pomegranate. Scientific studies, conducted in collaboration with leading universities, validate the functional claims associated with these innovative formulations, which lead to a significant boost in pets’ immune responses, weight control, anti-inflammatory properties, and improved cardiovascular health, among other benefits.

Photo by Inigo Taylor

When asked about how Pet Nutrition House ensures the freshness, naturalness, and transparency of its ingredients, Sean highlights their rigorous approach: “We conduct thorough background checks on all our suppliers to verify their sustainability practices for each of our ingredients. Quality is paramount, so we request samples to test before making purchases. For instance, with our bluefin tuna, we source it locally, ensuring the fisheries adhere to quotas, dolphin-safe certifications, and sustainable fishing processes. We also prioritise local suppliers because it enables us to reduce double handling and transportation, improving the sustainability of our products.”

All these efforts are paying off handsomely and the response to the new bluefin tuna treats has already been overwhelmingly positive. During market testing, international distributors have eagerly placed orders, hailing the treats for their unique properties and innovative nature. The reputation of bluefin tuna, particularly in Japan and the eastern region, adds to the treats’ allure.

This year, Pet Nutrition House has also celebrated the inauguration of a new factory plant in the San Gwann Industrial Estate Area. The company made a substantial investment in the plant and cutting-edge testing equipment to ensure that standards exceed the typical requirements for a feed plant. “Our factory grants us a remarkable degree of freedom to focus on research and development. We want to continue to distinguish ourselves from our global competitors. That’s why we purposefully maintain a more modest production scale. This deliberate choice affords us greater control over the quality of our pet foods. With lower throughput, we can afford to discard any products that do not meet our standards without significant financial impact. Ultimately, this approach ensures the exceptional quality of Pet Nutrition House products, which really sets us apart in the industry.”

Looking ahead, Sean reveals that Pet Nutrition House is already planning to develop more exciting products and initiatives. They have their sights set on introducing a new range of dry food, as well as high-quality chewy snacks, which will position them uniquely in a market largely dominated by China. Moreover, the company remains steadfast in its commitment to educating consumers about the benefits their products offer, driven by their own deep affinity for pets.

Thanks to their hard work and determination, together with a mission to incorporate Maltese-inspired designs into their packaging and marketing materials, Pet Nutrition House has triumphantly positioned Malta on the global pet food stage.

“We are extremely proud to be a Maltese company that has made a mark in the international scene. Now with our new factory, we hope to take this one step further by utilising even more untapped local resources. Through all that we do, we will strive to remain true to our roots as we continue to make a positive impact in the pet food industry, locally and beyond, with high-quality and sustainable products,” Sean concludes.

This interview was first carried in the 2023 edition of Business Now Magazine, the sister brand to and produced by Content House Group

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