Over the last few years, pet owners have realized that the food they feed their dogs could kill them. This year alone, about 20 products have already been recalled because of contaminants found in the food. In one of these cases, the culprit was a euthanasia drug; one dog died and others were sickened. One company is looking to take the fear out of purchasing dog food by being incredibly transparent.
Open Farm launched in 2014 with a mission to give consumers a safe choice of dog food. To ensure people trusted the company, Open Farm has taken extraordinary measures, including launching a website where people can enter the lot number of their dog food and find out exactly where the ingredients are sourced.
The company also works with farmers who focus on exceptional quality and sustainability; only includes premium ingredients, such as humane-grade meats and wild fish; will not use artificial preservatives, colors, flavor or ingredients from China and has a nationwide recycling program for its bags.
These steps earned them a NEXTY Award at the Natural Products Expo West 2017 Show for Best Transparently Sourced Product.
The founders of the family-run business had a simple reason for starting Open Farm. “We created a company around products we really wanted for ourselves and our dogs,” says Isaac Langleben, who started the company with his wife, Jacqueline Prehogan, and brother-in-law, Derek Beigleman. “My partners and I were already conscious of the decisions we made at the grocery store when buying food for ourselves — from a nutritional and ethical sourcing perspective — but we were not able to reflect these same values when buying food for our pets.”
Langleben believes that their company has become successful, with over 2,500 retail stores carrying their brand as well as online sales, because consumers today are demanding greater transparency and higher standards in how food is raised and produced. “Pets are a part of the family, and we saw no reason why this higher standard shouldn’t apply to what we are feeding them every day.” Besides focusing on providing a healthy diet for our pups, Open Farm’s bigger mission is to drive positive change in the pet-food industry and the broader food system by building a supply chain focused on enhanced animal welfare and sustainability, Langleben says.
The founders believe consumers have a right to know not only the ingredients in their dog food but also where those ingredients came from and how they were produced. They’ve partnered with organizations that support this goal, including Certified Humane, Global Animal Partnership and Ocean Wise.
“We view it as our responsibility to never stop pushing the standards for our industry forward,” says Langleben. “Not only are they experts in the field and a great source of knowledge on best practices, they also provide fully transparent and objective framework for evaluating the farms under their programs.”
Their goal is lofty, and accomplishing it has proven difficult. “Our needs did not overlap with the standard industry practices, and it took us over a year and a half to build our supply chain,” Langleban says. That meant meeting with dozens of manufacturers and visiting family farms across the country. “It was harder than expected, but we learned a tremendous amount and built great relationships in the process.”
The learning curve was steep. They had to set aside time to learn about the farm’s practices to determine if they would be a good fit. “Across the board, we always left impressed with their integrity and commitment to raising their animals with respect,” says Langleban.
Open Farm has expanded to include more products for both dogs and cats. They just announced a new product launch this September of a Freeze Dried Raw food. “We also have some exciting sourcing initiatives in the pipeline,” says Langleban. “It’s our mission to keep pushing the industry forward.”
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