ECRM Supplier Success: Big Creek Foods 10/25/2017
Big Creek Foods, a family-owned provider of American sourced and manufactured premium pet treats made from human-grade meat ingredients, attended ECRM’s Pet EPPS this past April with the goal of expanding its business from the pet specialty market into mass retail.
Based on conversations with mass retail buyers, Big Creek Foods VP of Sales Jessica Broder learned that many of these retailers wanted an established pet specialty brand that already has a consumer following.
Big Y was one such retailer. Headquartered in Springfield, Mass., Big Y is one of the largest independently owned supermarket chains in New England with almost 80 stores throughout Connecticut and Massachusetts. The buyers from Big Y – who are regulars at ECRM Pet EPPS sessions -- were seeking out suppliers with products that were American-made and that had a pet specialty feel.
Broder presented her company’s Look Who’s Happy! line of dog treats, made from all natural high quality USDA-inspected meats and slow-cooked with a beechwood smoking system that provides an aroma the company says dogs love. Chicken is the main meat ingredient, though they also use some beef and duck, as well (see video below).
The treats include several groupings with a variety of flavors:
- Fetch'n Fillets: Made with naturally raised, whole-muscle, USDA-inspected meat or cage free poultry
- Tempt'n Tenders: Made with USA-raised cage free chicken
- Farm 'n Fresh: Made with naturally raised poultry and duck, and come in two sizes, long stix and training bites
“This was Big Creek Foods’ first time meeting with Big Y, and we had a great discussion with the buyers, as our products were just the type they were looking for. After the ECRM session we sent samples and then followed up with the retailer’s broker, providing all of the additional information that they requested,” says Broder. “Within just a few months, Big Creek Food’s Look Who’s Happy! treats were part of Big Y’s planogram and on the shelf at its stores. This was definitely a case of the stars being aligned.”
Big Y wasn’t the only win for Big Creek Foods that came from the 2017 Pet EPPS – the supplier also made it onto the planogram for a large Northeastern grocery retailer, and is in process to get on the planograms for several others.
The Benefits of ECRM’s Format and Process
Big Creek Foods’ Broder attributed much of her recent success to ECRM’s format and process, which helped her prepare for, and to efficiently follow up with each of her meetings. “ECRM is great for getting in the door with these buyers we wouldn’t otherwise get access to,” she says. “The account managers are wonderful and help you to prepare and learn the tools such as the ECRM Connect App and the MarketGate platform, and the session itself is very well organized. I encourage any vendors to participate in EPPS sessions; they are a valuable way of getting your foot in the door to great retailers.”
However, while ECRM might get you to the party, it’s essential to have great follow-up to make the most of the experience, according to Broder. “Buyers often request a lot of information, and you have to do your homework. You have to ask insightful questions about the retailer’s business while in the meetings, and provide them with any additional information they need in a timely manner. Often, you’ll need to follow up in person at their office, and while we were able to close with Big Y rather quickly, sometimes it can take a lot longer, even a year or more.”
Broder notes that suppliers should come away from every meeting with something beneficial – either a follow up for potential business or else valuable learnings. “Even though a retailer may not be a good fit for you at the time, you never know if that might change in the future as you and they evolve, so it’s great to keep those relationships ongoing. You never know what the future can bring.”
CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR THE 2018 ECRM PET EPPS!!