We continue our Meet the Maker series with Roz from ByBenji Biltong.
ByBenji were one of the fabulous pet businesses at our first ever Doggie Market in July 2019 and it's safe to say they were one of the most popular stands of the day with the dogs!
Archie was addicted from the moment the first packet was opened and remains a loyal Biltongeer.
We asked Roz to tell us more about her wonderful UK pet business.
How did you start ByBenji?
We saw a gap in the dog treat market for a high value, one ingredient meat treat collection that would conform to raw and have all the intensity and character to become the ultimate reward and recall solution.
Biltong in the human world is an unrivalled super food, naturally preserved. Traditionally a South African meat snack that actually has many survival properties...it’s pure protein with a taste that is hard to resist!
The challenge was to adapt the South African human superfood...full of spices and chillies (certainly not dog friendly) to become a viable option for the dog world, wothout compromising on using top quality, premium ingredients!
We chose Silverside of Beef as the protein of choice, and with the help of a few local testers, the herb based marinating secret recipe was created. We found we had produced a range of equally powerful treats, with totally dog friendly ingredients, that sent dogs noses and their tastebuds into a spin, and with the guidance of our advisers at DEFRA, ByBenji Biltong was born!
Why did you decide to make biltong treats?
Biltong is unlike any other production process in the dog treat world, and that’s because......oh, you didn’t expect me to give away all our secrets...but safe to say the process of infusing the meat is a splendid blend of time, wind and warmth!!
Trends in the dog treat world have been swiftly moving towards clean eating, positive snacking and having been raised on the traditional snack it was clear that the Biltong process fitted perfectly into the need for a ground breaking, high value product.
Biltong is extraordinary so why go for the ordinary...let’s stand out from the crowd!
We strived to produce and pioneer a unique product that would be desired by both trainers and also the luxury treat market alike! The proof was in the dog reactions!
How has the last 12 months affected ByBenji?
This time last year, we were preparing for our very first Crufts. Our plans were to expand and move into new premises to have the capacity to build the business to bigger biltong heights!
The last year has been a year of support. How to support our stockists and stock eaters as the world became an online place.
Sadly live events were obviously scratched from the calendar. Events that saw us meeting customers, both existing Biltongeers and new, and this is probably true for most businesses as they are such an important part of who we are and what we do. We simply had to bring our face to face business to the virtual world as best as we could. With more online competitions, and offering support meant we saw more online business movement and we also beat all the odds to finally move into our new production unit at the beautiful dog friendly destination Battlers Green Farm, Radlett in November.
We look forward to what’s to come with the help and support of our loyal biltong family!
What are your plans for the next 12 months?
We have every intention of filling that new unit with more biltong than any dog can handle*, building the ByBenji Brand online and off, growing our Biltongeer Ambassador programme, working and embracing more collaborations, and we cannot wait to see live faces again....watch this space!!
*Archie says challenge accepted
Tell us more about your loyal group of Biltongeers.
We are totally blown away by the affection from our Biltongeers! I guess if you have a happy dog then that means a happy human and we are so touched by the support shown for our products and for our business.
Biltongeers have embraced our logo, enhancing the ByBenji experience of enjoyment, taking time to have their “ByBenji Moment” regally on their Throne of choice. Basically, it’s all about the product, you certainly can’t fool a dog, and if your dog is having the treat time of their lives it’s not only a conversation starter but a memory that lingers.
We are overwhelmed at how the canine community from the Kennel Club Agility world to Groomers, Walkers, Handlers and Boarders plus the working and rescue dog world have welcomed us into their hearts!
What other pet businesses do you admire?
The niche, the independent, and the pet businesses that are also pushing the boundaries to bring something original to the market.
How do you see the future for Independent UK pet businesses?
Big question, but I would like to think that independent pet businesses continue to appeal to the discerning dog market as a first approach, and that there will always be a place to provide the canine customers with what they want. New shopping habits are probably here to stay, and we have to embrace that, but would like to believe a business with a personal touch will always be around!
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