The joy of pet industry trade shows


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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 28/09/2022 (253 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Every industry will have trade shows, where manufacturers, distributors and customers are able to share information about what’s new in the business. The pet industry is no different, and I was fortunate to recently attend my first trade show since the spring of 2020, when we went to Florida a few weeks before the world shut down.

For two days last week, I was able to wander the show floor, taking in what the industry has to offer today.

I got to talk with many of the companies I presently deal with, finding out what’s new and exciting, what is changing, and re-affirming the reasons we chose to do business in the first place. These old friends are always happy to see long-time customers and hear how their products are being received by our clients and looking for feedback on how they can serve us better going forward.

<p>The opportunity to meet suppliers and other pet store owners is the best part of a pet-industry trade show.</p>

The opportunity to meet suppliers and other pet store owners is the best part of a pet-industry trade show.

Every show, I get to make new friends and I learn a lot. Talking directly with the people who formulate products, the people who source, make, and package the items we are considering putting on our shelves is so much better than looking at a brochure or website. When you can look someone in the eye, it’s hard for them to spin the sales pitch. Being able to ask questions directly (and using a lifetime of experience to know what questions to ask) affects your decision to bring in a product or pass on it right then and there. And when you can talk to someone and feel their passion for making our pets lives better, rather than it being a way to make a buck — well, those are the companies I love to deal with. Every show, I get to meet at least a few who share that passion.

Much of a pet industry trade show is about nutrition, which makes sense because most of what we spend on our pets is on food and supplements. Discussing what the intentions are for a product is important when deciding whether to offer it in the store.

In addition to the foods, there were a lot of new treats and chews. As we move on from biscuits and rawhides, the options are becoming interesting and diverse. From bull tails to seal hide chews, there are lots of new proteins and formats.

There are also a lot of new accessories on display. These include new high-tech items, of which some are very interesting; others purely gadgets. I saw some new ideas and materials in harnesses, leashes, bowls to make life easier and/or cleaner

Shows are also a chance to meet up with fellow shop owners and exchange news about what our clients are having success with, and what trends can help us serve them better. Exchanging simple tips, combinations of products that work great alone but work even better together, can end up being the best part of the show. Not to mention getting to talk with old friends who share a common passion for the business.

I certainly got my steps in at the show, and brought home a lot of new contacts for interesting products that we will be bringing into the store in the next few months.

Jeff McFarlane

Jeff McFarlane
Pets Are People, Too

Jeff McFarlane is the owner of Thrive Pet Food Market. Contact him with your questions or ideas or visit

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