A Fredericton pet food company is doubling production and plans to hire 15 people after striking a deal with Realtree to use its popular camouflage design on bags of food for hunting dogs.
Corey Nutrition was looking at making its dog food more attractive to hunters and struck on the idea of packaging the product in camouflage.
Plant manager Blake Estey noted that Realtree, popularized on the reality television show Duck Dynasty through the head-to-toe camouflage clothing worn by its stars, is the leading camouflage on the market.
That prompted Corey Nutrition owner Lee Corey to contact Realtree's owners, Jordan Outdoor Adventures, of Columbus, Ga.
"They didn't have a Realtree dog food, but they felt that it would be something they would maybe consider, but they were concerned about our quality," said Corey.
It was agreed that Corey would ship them some of the company's dog food to sample.
"You try it and if your dogs don't do well, you're not happy, it's all over," was Corey's pitch. "If you're very happy, then we'll talk more.
"A week went by, we sent the product down, we got a call. They said, `There's just one little problem, the dogs love it and now they won't eat anything else.'"
Corey then went to Columbus to begin working on an agreement to use the Realtree camouflage. The final details were worked out in August.
Realtree has about 70 per cent of the camouflage dress market and has become a lifestyle brand that is bigger than simply hunting attire. It is associated with 1,400 products, covering everything from bed sheets to energy drinks — and now food for hunting dogs. Realtree's world sales total more than $1 billion.
Corey Nutrition's agreement with Realtree is a five-year, worldwide agreement. Corey already exports its products to 20 countries.
"It provides us with access to the largest, richest market in the world. There are 83 million dogs in the United States," said Corey.
The agreement has allowed Corey Nutrition to strike deals with six distributors in the lucrative American market. The company's largest American agreement is with a chain with more than 1,200 stores across the U.S. Corey is not at liberty to disclose the name of the store at present because of a "first-to-market" agreement.
"We'll be at capacity within a year," said Corey.
'We'll meet these guys, we'll go down and see them, we'll get their dogs on our dog food. Absolutely.' - Lee Corey, Corey Nutrition
The company will start bagging its first U.S. shipment of 35,000 bags of the Realtree food next week and is moving to 24-hour production, five days a week. The company plans to hire 15 people, with five of those in production at its Fredericton plant and the others in administration and sales.
Corey Nutrition currently produces about 1,000 tonnes, or 40 tractor-trailer loads, of pet food every week. Corey expects that production will double and he already is making expansion plans for a larger warehouse.
The agreement with Realtree does not include any guarantee of exposure through the popular Duck Dynasty reality television show. But Corey said that doesn't mean it won't happen.
"There's no direct association between our dog food and that show," he said. "However, via the Realtree, we'll meet these guys, we'll go down and see them, we'll get their dogs on our dog food. Absolutely."