PREMIUM PET FOOD IS GOING TO MARKET

DANA POINT, Calif. -- Hoping to prove you can teach an old dog new tricks, Century PetCare here is bringing its Advanced Nutrition Formula brand of superpremium pet foods to supermarkets."We've hit a nerve center with this," said Bill Mann, Century's senior vice president. "Iams, Hills and ANF have spent 40 years and hundreds of millions of dollars convincing the consumer that the only place you can

DANA POINT, Calif. -- Hoping to prove you can teach an old dog new tricks, Century PetCare here is bringing its Advanced Nutrition Formula brand of superpremium pet foods to supermarkets.

"We've hit a nerve center with this," said Bill Mann, Century's senior vice president. "Iams, Hills and ANF have spent 40 years and hundreds of millions of dollars convincing the consumer that the only place you can buy real quality pet food is anywhere but a grocery store. If we can make this work, it will force Hill's and Iams into the stores because they'll have to go there to protect their business. Once grocery has our product, Hill's and Iams, why would you go to a pet store?"

ANF's products, like all superpremium pet foods, use more-concentrated formulas than traditional pet food. "A 15-pound bag feeds more than what 20 pounds of regular dog food does," Mann said. "The suggested retail price is $12, $2 more than for most regular brands."

Retailers, Mann said, will also like the size of the ANF packages. The vacuum-sealed, highly concentrated products take up significantly less shelf space than traditional pet foods.

Mann told SN that because Century's research showed many consumers are not willing to pay more for various life-stage products, the Century products will be line-priced.

"Customers said they didn't understand stages and why some cost more than others. Many said they were buying the cheapest stage a brand offered, not necessarily what their pet needed."

Mann said carrying superpremium pet foods will help retailers stem the tide of sales being lost to pet superstores. "Carrying premium lines can also enhance a store's image because of the better products and the added convenience factor for those customers who don't have to go to the pet store," Mann said.

Century PetCare was formed in 1994. Its initial thrust is to expand distribution of the ANF pet food lines. In addition to dog and cat food, Century is also offering a line of superpremium pet treats.