Based on more than 40 years of experience, Symrise Pet Food has achieved comprehensive knowledge of pets, products and markets, which has allowed it to position itself as a global leader in pet food palatability through its SPF brand. In addition, Symrise Pet Food has extended its offer to pet nutrition solutions with its brand Nutrios, pet food protection solutions with the Videka brand. Symrise Pet Food's ambition is to give all pets a better life by being at the heart of every eating experience by 2030.

For Symrise Pet Food, proximity to stakeholders is key, according to the motto: "The closer the better". For this reason, in this 2023 the company continues with its expansion –which already has 31 sites distributed in 4 global regions– and has begun to build a new plant in Mexico, which follows the latest construction standards and puts sustainability at the heart of the factory design and operations.

We spoke with Juan Becher, General Manager of the Mexico subsidiary, to learn more about the characteristics of the new plant, the production of pet food in Mexico, the future of the market and the role of Symrise Pet Food in the industry as a global leader.


Juan, can you tell us a little about yourself and Symrise Pet Food in Mexico?


Symrise Pet Food began operating in Mexico in September 2004, and I joined the company in April 2005 as Production Manager. I remember that at that time we were really very few: barely 8 employees running the entire company. During the next 10 years, we had many challenges, but without a doubt there were many more satisfactions! In 2015, as the structure was similar to the current organization, I took the responsibility of leading the commercial management of Mexico and Central America; and in 2021, I assumed the position of General Manager of Mexico.


For those of us who do not live in Mexico, could you briefly tell us what is the Mexican pet food market like and what is its current context?

Back in 2004, Mexico was the seventh pet food producing country; today we can say that we are the fourth, with around 1,700,000 tons produced in 2022 and according to our internal estimates. We only have very large markets above us, such as the United States, Brazil and China.

As in the other countries in the region, Mexico is a country dominated by dogs (small ones mostly), but with a remarkable growth in the cat population. The phenomenon of urbanization is not unknown to us, since almost 25% of the population in Mexico is concentrated in the 3 most important cities.

The effects of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine forced all producers to reassess their strategies and adapt them to the "value for money" that is heard so often. Fortunately, the Mexican pet food industry is robust and has a lot of investment behind it, so each kibble produced has the value that pet owners seek when feeding their companions.


What could you tell us about the new plant that you started to build?

The new plant will be located in the city of Querétaro, very close to the current one. In 2021 we acquired a 2-hectare piece of land to build the offices and the production plant. In total, we are talking about 6,600 square meters and a total of 4 buildings. Like the new plants in Brazil and Colombia, our plant will have high standards in terms of infrastructure, process technologies and automation, thanks to which we will be able to continue manufacturing the environmentally responsible products that our customers choose and need.


Industry and market knowledge

Nobody ignores that Latin America is one of the regions that appreciates pets the most. In addition to being one of the regions with most pets per inhabitant, a recent statistic found that 67% of the people in Latin America prefer their pets to their friends. Symrise Pet Food works with the commitment to contribute not only to the benefit of the pet, but also to the close affective relationship between the pet owner and the pet, who in many cases, is considered as another member of the family.


Juan, what could you tell us about Symrise Pet Food's contribution to the industry?

Thanks to our commercial and productive network around the world, we have a comprehensive knowledge of the local manufacturer and its needs, but also of the pet owners and their pets, who are always looking for new and better products. These three, without a doubt, are the main players in the pet food industry and the ones that make the wheel of our industry turn. In our almost 20 years of presence in the Mexican market, we have always considered it important to listen to them and find solutions that meet their expectations.

When we talk about food for our beloved pets, it is extremely important to provide confidence and safety at all times: from the moment before the reception of raw materials to the dispatch and delivery to the customer. The plant and our work teams support the pet food industry by offering the highest quality and food safety globally, to meet (and exceed) everyone's expectations.

Through our Aplicalis team, we go beyond the simple delivery of products and provide our clients with more than 40 years of experience and leadership in the palatability market to improve both their production processes and the application of palatants. In short, we help them produce that food or treat that they thought of and want to launch on the market.


The importance of sustainability

Symrise Pet Food was born from the desire to value by-products, which is why from its origins it has included sustainable development in its strategy. Its roadmap is based on four pillars: Footprint (to minimize the environmental footprint throughout the value chain), Innovation (to maximize the social and environmental performance of products), Sourcing (to maximize the sustainability of the supply chain and raw materials) and Care (to improve the well-being of employees and the local community). Through them, the company seeks to improve its performance in various areas to achieve the goals set by the United Nations for 2030, with special attention to the challenge of reaching 2030 while being neutral with respect to the emission of greenhouse gases.


We asked Juan Becher to elaborate on the value of sustainability and Symrise Pet Food's commitment in this regard.

You mentioned responsibility with the environment before, something key in the current situation of the planet. How important do you think sustainability is today in the Mexican pet food market?

In my opinion, in 2023 all companies in the industry should consider sustainability as an indispensable factor when planning their activities and processes. Although broadly speaking the pet food industry has its origins in the revalorization of by-products, technological advances and access to information have made it clear that the traditional ways of producing must change.

At Symrise Pet Food we have a tool that has added a lot of value to our products and, consequently, to pet food and its industry: the Ecodesign Matrix. With it we measure the environmental impact of a product before and after its production; we measure the impact of our raw materials and ingredients, their transportation and later the impact of transporting our products to the customer. In this way, we can develop alternatives with the same palatability performance, but with a substantial improvement in environmental impacts.

Currently, the big players are the millennials (generation Y) and, although they are not yet mature in terms of income, they are the biggest group of owners of pets and are very involved in caring for the environment. They seek to guide their consumption towards truly responsible brands that face the new challenges of industrial design.

Now, answering your question, I think that the Mexican market is giving it the corresponding importance. Thanks to our close contact with almost all pet food producers, I know that they are working to develop more and better products that are ethical and environmentally responsible. According to Mintel, in 2018, 10% of the products launched in the Mexican market had one or more claims in the "Ethical and environmental" category, and in 2022 we were in the order of 21%. We are certainly going on the right path.


How do you see the market in Mexico and our region 10 years from now?

Since I started working in the industry, I have not ceased to be surprised by the growth and maturation that it experiences year after year. Our new plant is designed with the market of the next 10 years in mind; a much more robust, developed market with a greater offer of wet products and treats, both for dogs and cats. The idea of outstanding eating experiences, natural ingredients and functional foods that improve the lives of pets will be determining issues for their owners, as they have been for several years.


Thank you very much Juan for your time. Would you like to add anything else to close?

First of all, I want to thank our clients who trust us every day and know that we put all our effort into giving them the best solutions to their needs; without them we would not be the undisputed leaders in palatability.

Secondly, and no less important, I would like to thank you for spreading the word about everything we do at Symrise Pet Food, as well as spreading what our colleagues and clients do. I think it is essential to do, but you also have to make it known. Developing the pet food industry and modifying the forms of production is everyone's work and commitment.

By: Symrise Pet Food

Source: All Pet Food Magazine


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