What started off as a brand founded by a woman making food for her two dogs in her one-bedroom New York apartment almost two decades ago has now grown to become a national competitor in the pet food industry.
Oak Creek-based Stella & Chewy’s
has seen double-digit growth since 2019 and is launching its first national marketing campaign today. The campaign will include television, print and web advertising. The company declined to disclose the cost of the campaign.
The company’s founder, Marie Moody,
is a Muskego native who ended up bringing her company back to Wisconsin in 2007. In 2015, the company made the move to a then brand new facility in Oak Creek, where David Campbell,
chief marketing officer, said Stella & Chewy’s continues to grow aggressively.
“During the pandemic over the last several years, American households adopted about 23 million new pets into their families, so there’s been an immense surge. I think beyond that, during that time, more people are looking for really authentic relationships not only with humans but with their pets,” Campbell said.
The increase in demand for more authentic products led Stella & Chewy’s to recently expand their Oak Creek facility by 140,000 square feet,
which allows for additional food production and shipping improvements. In the last year, the company’s workforce has grown by 34% and leadership expects to further increase the company’s workforce by 21% over the next five years. Stella & Chewy’s currently employs over 600 people and 520 are local.
Campbell said approximately 80 to 90% of the company’s products are manufactured locally. Stella & Chewy’s focuses on creating raw and natural food and the company has been able to take advantage of the growing trend among humans of wanting less processed foods. As humans increasingly treat their pets like family members, they also want to feed their pets the best foods available.
“We’ve seen a 20% growth in raw pet food itself over the past couple of years and we’re seeing that growth pick up which I really think is capitalizing on some of these trends,” Campbell said.
Innovation is a key component to the company’s growth. Stella & Chewy’s was at the forefront of creating freeze-dried raw foods and is now the category leader with an over 50% share of all sales made, according to the company.
Stella & Chewy's has a pipeline of new products scheduled three years out. One new area of pet food set to hit shelves soon is called the “gently-cooked” category. It involves a frozen product designed to look like fresh human food.
“We now have products that exist over every pet food category, from kibble to wet food to treats and when we think about innovation itself, we have a whole team dedicated to it. We’re always talking to pet parents to see if there is a gap in the market we can fill,” Campbell said.
With the launch of its new “All You Need is Raw” campaign, Stella & Chewy’s hopes to emphasize the increasing importance pets play in our everyday lives and how raw foods can play a key part in making sure pets are cared for. The company is spending twice as much as they ever have on a campaign before.
“The campaign itself is really going to drive home our belief around the benefits of raw and raw-inspired, natural foods,” Campbell said. “Our ultimate objective, of course, is to positively impact more pets’ lives and pet parent's lives in turn.”