Client Spotlight: Crumps’ Naturals

February 15, 2024 | Amanda Green

Looking for yummy, small-batch treats for your four-legged friend? Check out Crumps’ Naturals! These no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives treats use single or limited ingredients in their family-owned and operated facility. The treats are available in flavors like sweet potato, chicken, lamb, and duck. They are available in small training bite sizes (perfectly portioned for any size dog), Naughty Nibbles, and dental chews. Crumps’ Naturals uses 100% recyclable packaging. We sat down with Crumps’ Naturals co-founder, Margot Crump to better understand the brand’s mission and strategies for building a sustainable pet treat brand.

You made a conscious decision to make Crumps’ Naturals a natural and sustainable brand with fully traceable ingredients. Why did you decide to go that route? 

This decision came about organically at first and evolved into a more conscious decision and commitment as the brand matured.

I am often asked how did the product idea and brand come about and here’s what I tell people. In 2005 several events led to our decision to start a pet treat company. A move back to Canada, after living in the U.S. for five years, four young children to support, a crossroads in our careers, and a passion for pets. My husband and business partner, Joe, and I incorporated the company in 2006 and established the Crumps’ Naturals brand.

As we had limited means at the time, we started making beef liver fillets in our home garage. We started with a rudimentary operation with just a meat slicer, an oven (used in the bakery industry), a fridge, and a packaging sealer. As my husband and I were new to making pet treats, we began making products with just one ingredient. 

There were a few early factors that validated a need for a premium natural pet treat. Firstly, shortly after we began making Crumps’ Naturals treats, there were the melamine pet food recalls from 2007-2008. With this came a growing mistrust among consumers; people were now looking for locally made/made in Canada. They liked that we were a family business and the transparency of our packaging and ingredients. We also recognized that very few other companies in Canada were making dehydrated pet treats and saw the “white space opportunity”. Our brand would be built on premium, natural, gently dehydrated treats (to preserve nutritional integrity) made with minimal ingredients.

Over the first couple of years, we attended a number of consumer shows where we met thousands of people and their dogs who came by our booth and tested our products. Even the fussiest dogs loved them. We learned quickly that pet parents loved the simplicity of our products. People liked that they could see the product; when they read the ingredient list, there was only one ingredient and it was recognizable! 

We continued to evolve our core lineup of products made from single /minimal ingredients always with no additives, colours, or preservatives. We only sourced our ingredients from Canada and the U.S.

In 2013 we voluntarily underwent our first Global Food Safety (GFSI) audit which other companies of our size were not doing at the time. This is where full traceability came in as just one small part of our food safety and quality standards. Now we were able to trace our ingredients and finished products back to the suppliers and forward them to the end consumer. This opened many doors for us, allowing us to broaden our reach.

We were a sustainable brand from the onset, working with raw materials such as beef lung and beef liver. This is essential if we are going to continue to be a sustainable brand, as 25% of animal-derived calories produced in the US are consumed by dogs and cats.  In this way, we did not compete directly with the human food market. We began upcycling our small pieces of beef liver and using them to make our beef sprinkles and upcycling our sweet potato to use in our Plaque Busters as examples. With our new iteration of products, we are looking to incorporate new and unique protein sources, like seaweed, fibre sources, and miscanthus grass, that come from regenerative agriculture to meet the growing demand for eco-friendly and ethical choices.

While we began as a natural, sustainable brand, we continued to listen to consumers and retailers and recognize the need to keep pushing the boundaries as we strive to make sustainable products. 

How difficult is it to accomplish that kind of brand transparency in today’s pet food/pet treat industry? 

I don’t think this is difficult at all. We have built our company based on acting with integrity and making decisions that don’t compromise our core values, the same ones we began with over seventeen years ago in our garage.  We must maintain our manufacturing, both in Toronto Canada, and Nashville, North Carolina. This allows us to thoroughly vet our suppliers, and maintain control over the quality of ingredients, where they are sourced, and how the product is made.

You’ve referred to your company as “garage-grown”. You started the brand from scratch at home in your garage, and have spent countless hours turning it into the internationally known and recognized company that Crumps’ Naturals is today. What words of wisdom do you have for the entrepreneurs who are sitting at home in their garage right now with a pile of products and boxes and order forms in front of them? 

Here are my top words of advice for other entrepreneurs just getting started:

  • Remain true to your values. Always.
  • Excellent customer service and the importance of building relationships
  • Transparency from the partners you may choose to work with, to your customers and employees
  • Be resilient, adapt, reinvent
  • Be self-aware as leaders and build this into your company fabric
  • Be passionate/hungry. You will need to be fully committed to get you through the ups and downs
  • Ask lots of questions and dig for answers

Global pet care is a massively growing $250-billion industry. What do you see as Crumps’ Naturals’ future role in that market? 

We started out challenging the status quo to have natural, limited, and single-ingredient treats with fully traceable ingredients. Looking forward, we will continue to challenge and evolve the way we think about pet well-being and the planet. We will continue to elevate what “treating” means by focusing on whole dog health – mind, body, and soul. Every dog is unique and so are their needs/desires. We are excited to be at the forefront of wellness within the pet space and will be bringing functional treats with mindful ingredients to help elevate dogs to their full potential.

Who are your test doggies? Is there a special pup or are there special pups in your life who get to try out these tasty treats first? 

We have so many passionate dog taste testers here at our office but our core taste testing team are our R&D dogs – Visa, Franny, and Maisey, our \Crumps’ Naturals brand approvers – Dolly, Thor, and Milo, Our pickiest of taste testers – Archer, and last but certainly not least or CEO Lucy. They get first dibs and can usually sniff out the winner!

Is there a certain flavor or product that you’ve noticed certain breeds gravitate towards? (Like… I’m thinking of my own hound mix who goes gaga over beef liver.) 

We actually get this question a lot. It truly comes down to the individual dog and their unique preferences. Our products range across all diets: from dogs that go crazy for anything beef and high protein, to lamb and duck Mini Trainers for dogs with sensitivities, Freeze-Dried Bites for those on a raw diet, or plant-based choices where we’ve found our Sweet Potato Chews and Plaque Busters to be fan favorites. Every dog is different and that’s why understanding and treating the whole dog matters – mind, body, and soul.

Name one thing you like about working with Orca Communications

We love that the staff are friendly, open, and highly approachable.  They truly become an extension of the brand and share the same passion and desire as we do to increase exposure for our products.