Why Chef Bobby Flay Now Prepares Cat Food

Chef Bobby Flay has focused his entire career on delivering high quality ingredients and flavors to customers in his various restaurants and through his appearances on the Food Network. Now Flay is looking for a new audience: cats.

The pet food market has skyrocketed in recent years as the share of U.S. pet owners is now at an all-time high of 70% of American households, or roughly 90.5 million homes, according to the American Pet Products Association.

Naturally, spending on pet supplies also rose to $ 103.6 billion in 2020, up 6.5% from last year, according to APPA. The largest category is pet food and treats, which add up to $ 42 billion of that amount and 9.7% more than last year as more people not only adopted pets, but spent more on them.

But even Fly, the self-proclaimed “guy with cats,” said he didn’t know what food to serve to his two Maine Coon cats, Nacho and Stella.

Celebrity chef Bobby Flay and his cat Nacho Flay will perform on the radio show on November 23, 2015 in New York.

Astrid Staviarz | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images

“It was difficult for me to figure out what to feed my cats, so I kind of took it upon myself,” said Flay on the air of the CNBC channel “Exchange”. According to Fly, he drew inspiration from the “premiumization of human food and brought it into the cat business.”

Although the idea began as a passionate project, Flay said the goal of Made by Nacho is “to make it a real business, so that it’s not just a hobby – it’s definitely a passion, but it’s real.”

Flay approached Ellie Trussell, who was previously Global Director of Local Branding Product Innovation at Amazon’s subsidiary Whole Foods and was CEO of Canopy Foods, to co-found it.

In August 2020, they hired former Petco executive Julie Nelson as president of the company, helping to develop the brand’s omnichannel distribution. When the brand launched in April, Made by Nacho was available on its website and exclusively at PetSmart. Flay said the company has a 64% average customer return so far and now has a subscription service for its products.

“We had a human food business and a cat food and pet food business,” said Flay.

After a few more months – during which Flay said the brand saw “immediate growth and mostly weekly, we grow every week” – the company hired CEO, Tessa Gould, a former SoulCycle and Buzzfeed executive who also served as CMO. the Kinship group, the innovation and venture arm of Mars Petcare.

They also leaned towards the brand name – seven-year-old Nacho Flay has over 240,000 Instagram followers.

While Fly said the food is cat-focused, there are more chef-inspired ingredients and recipes, such as duck liver and wild Alaskan salmon treats, and dried beef, rabbit, and other pumpkin foods.

Pet supplies continue to grow

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