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Amazon Steps Into Animal Healthcare Market

Owners can use voice commands to manage pets’ healthcare.

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Pet owners can now receive their pets’ healthcare reminders and book appointments through Amazon Alexa.

LOS ANGELES — VCA Animal Hospitals announced that pet owners can now receive their pets’ healthcare reminders and book appointments through Amazon Alexa.

VCA said in a press release that it will be “the first in the animal hospital industry to introduce voice command to manage pets’ healthcare.”

“As a leader in the pet healthcare industry, we’ve made it our mission to provide pet owners with the best possible experience through continued innovation and digital transformation,” said Brendan Lynch, VP of Digital Strategy for VCA Animal Hospitals. “For us, that means making every interaction between pet owners and our animal hospitals as convenient and easy as possible.”

According to eMarketer, smart speakers are the fastest growing consumer technology since the smartphone, and a recent study by Adobe forecasts that nearly half of U.S. households will own a smart speaker by the end of 2018.

VCA has focused on technology in recent years. Currently, VCA has more than 3,000 iPads in its animal hospitals which include proprietary mobile apps for checking in pets, two-way text messaging with pet owners, and giving medical staff on-the-go access to their patients’ medical records. VCA also launched the myVCA pet owner app earlier this year, offering services such as access to healthcare reminders and medical records.

“The ultimate goal of introducing these newer tech-forward offerings like the VCA Animal Hospitals skill is to create a more seamless customer experience when it comes to pet healthcare, and to make sure we have healthier pet patients,” said Aaron Frazier, vice president of client experience for VCA. “Whether it’s at your local VCA Animal Hospital or through Alexa, we want to be part of every pet’s healthcare journey while helping pet owners along the way.”

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The VCA deal is not Amazon’s first foray into the pet market.

In May, the company said it was launching its own pet product brand for Prime subscribers. The brand, called Wag, started with dry dog food.

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Pet Supplies Chain Signs 22 Franchise Agreements

The deals will result in 46 stores.

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LIVONIA, MI — Pet Supplies Plus announced that it welcomed 46 new franchise store deals in the first half of 2019.

Twenty-two new agreements represent the 46 locations.

The stores will be developed across Texas, Florida, California, Michigan, Kentucky and New Hampshire.

Pet Supplies Plus stated in a press release that it has attracted franchisees from varying backgrounds, including former corporate positions, military veterans and entrepreneurs. Additionally, four franchise brokers have signed on to open their own Pet Supplies Plus stores.

The brand currently has 460 locations, according to the release.

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“We consistently add 30 stores a year, in part because franchise candidates know our tagline, ‘Minus the hassle,’ also refers to our franchise opportunity,” said Pet Supplies Plus CEO Chris Rowland. “We ‘minus the hassle’ out of business ownership and handle the back-office duties like merchandising, marketing, supply chain, promotions, pricing and managing social media allowing our franchisees to focus on what they love to do – engaging with neighbors (a term Pet Supplies Plus uses for customers) and building strong store teams.”

Additionally, six existing franchisees signed franchise agreements further investing in the brand. These six current franchise agreements account for 22 of the new store deals, with one franchise group committed to adding 15 more locations.

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Pet Food Maker Opens $200M Plant

It’s located in Richmond, IN.

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RICHMOND, IN — Natural pet food brand Blue Buffalo announced the opening of its $200 million manufacturing plant in Richmond, IN.

The 400,000-square-foot plant will create 165 full-time jobs in food processing, quality assurance, maintenance and plant management. The 125-acre campus increases the U.S. production capacity of BLUE Life Protection Formula, BLUE Wilderness, BLUE Basics and BLUE Freedom dry dog and cat foods.

“Blue Buffalo is focused on enhancing the health of pets by providing dog and cat food made with the highest quality wholesome, natural ingredients,” said Billy Bishop, president of Blue Buffalo Pet Foods, a division of General Mills Inc. “Our new state-of-the-art plant in Richmond exceeds industry standards in food safety and product quality, and will allow Blue Buffalo to feed more pets and reach more pet parents wherever they shop.”

The plant has the capacity to produce more than 1 million pounds of dry dog and cat food per day.

“With this expanded manufacturing capability, General Mills and Blue Buffalo can better meet the growing demand for pet food made with natural ingredients,” said Jeff Harmening, General Mills chairman and CEO. “This new plant is another example of General Mills accelerating the growth of our natural and organic brands. As an Indiana native, I’m also proud that Blue Buffalo is creating jobs and fueling the local economy in Richmond and surrounding areas.”

Construction of the plant started in 2016. It is Blue Buffalo’s second company-owned manufacturing plant, with the first facility located in Joplin, MO. Blue Buffalo products can be found at pet specialty stores and grocery, drug store and mass merchandise retailers in North America as well as Amazon.com, Chewy.com and other online stores.

“Job creators around the world continue to choose to grow their operations in Indiana because of our low costs and highly-skilled Hoosier workforce,” said Indiana Gov. Eric J. Holcomb. “Companies like General Mills and Blue Buffalo are taking notice, and we’re thrilled for them to make their premium pet food in the strongest manufacturing state in the country. Blue Buffalo’s Indiana growth will provide quality career opportunities to Hoosiers, and we look forward to their many years of success in our state.”

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Pet Care Product Company Acquired

MiracleCorp purchased the Natural Chemistry Pet & Home brand.

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MiracleCorp has announced the acquisition of Natural Chemistry Pet & Home brand, known for its natural flea and tick, grooming and pet care products, from Muntech Products.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“We are delighted to integrate the Natural Chemistry Pet & Home line into our Miracle Care brand,” said Patricia Weimer, COO of MiracleCorp. “We expect this to be a seamless transition over the next 6 weeks where we expect to provide incredible products along with MiracleCorp’s extremely high fill rates and comprehensive top of class customer service.”

Alison Cremeans, marketing manager at MiracleCorp, added, “Their premium, natural products complement our Miracle Care assortment perfectly. These products are both very effective and affordable which will resonate with retailers, pet parents and pet professionals.”

“We are delighted to pass along the high preforming Natural Chemistry Pet & Home assortment to the very capable team at MiracleCorp, so that we may shift our focus to other strategic initiatives,” said Christian Shaffer, COO of Muntech Products.

All Natural Chemistry Pet & Home products are now available through MiracleCorp and ready to ship from their Dayton, OH, headquarters. Natural Chemistry Pet & Home products will be on display at SuperZoo in the MiracleCorp booth 4159.

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