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Pet food companies respond to Russian invasion of Ukraine

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has prompted some pet food and treat manufacturing companies to readdress their operations in the region. Agricultural and feed associations in the European Union have issued joint statements, and several companies across the CPG industry have halted their operations in Russia as a result of the invasion.

Mars, Incorporated was among a handful of companies to address how the attack would affect its operations.

“Mars has operated in Russia for over 30 years, and we employ almost 6,000 Associates who have been a vital part of our company for decades,” the company shared in a statement on March 10. “We will continue to support them, but business as usual is not an option.”

The company’s pet nutrition business, Mars Petcare, currently operates a wet pet food manufacturing plant in Novosibirsk, Siberia. In August 2021, it announced an investment of roughly 1.7 billion rubles to expand the facility.

In light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Mars, Inc. stated it would “scale back” its businesses and refocus its food manufacturing efforts to prioritize its “essential role in feeding the Russian people and pets.” The company did not elaborate on how that would affect its pet food plants specifically. All profits made through its Russian businesses will be used toward humanitarian causes, the company stated.

“We have suspended new investments in Russia and will not import or export our products in or out of Russia. Our social media and advertising activity in Russia and Belarus will remain suspended,” the company stated.

On March 1, the company announced a cash donation of $2 million to support humanitarian efforts, including $1.5 million to Save the Children and $500,000 to Humane Society International to assist pets and their owners. On March 10, the company increased its donations by $10 million worth of cash and in-kind aid.

“We reiterate our support to the innocent victims of this war and call for a peaceful resolution. Our hearts go out to the people of Ukraine and all those impacted by these terrible events,” the company stated.

Nestlé, a global food company that owns Purina PetCare, has also stepped in by donating to food banks and local charities in Ukraine. Company employees have also participated in a fundraiser in partnership with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC), and those contributions will be matched by Nestlé.

“At this time, the safety and security of our people is our highest priority,” the company shared in a statement on March 11. “We are in close daily contact with our employees and doing all we can to ensure their safety. We are also providing them with support in the form of emergency food packages, advance salary payments, and administrative assistance and psychological support to help employees and their families who have already left or wish to leave the country.”

Nestlé also shared it has suspended all advertising and capital investments in Russia, and has suspended non-essential food exports to Russia, as well as non-essential food imports to the country. The company considers therapeutic pet foods for specialty retailers and veterinarians as an essential food, alongside baby food, tailored nutrition and cereals, and will continue importing those products to Russian markets.

The company concluded its statement by saying it will keep its operations and activities in the region “under close review.”

Save Pets of Ukraine

On Feb. 24, Kormotech, a pet food manufacturer based in Ukraine, shared production and shipment was temporarily suspended in the country. The company’s manufacturing operations in Lithuania and distribution center in Poland continued running as usual. The company produces the OptiMeal brand of dog and cat food products, which made its stateside debut in September 2021.

Source: Kormotech

On March 2, the company launched a Save Pets of Ukraine initiative, aiming to provide support to pet owners, animal care volunteers and shelters in the region. Fourteen days later on March 16, the company shared 260 volunteers and shelter groups received aid from the fund, and more than 94,500 kgs (roughly 208,300 lbs) of pet food were provided to pets and owners in need in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia, Dnipro , Zhytomyr and other communities across Ukraine. Donated pet food products were also sent to the railway station in Lviv and various border service checkpoints.

“Pets are like children. They also need to be saved from Russian aggression’s threats and catastrophic consequences in Ukraine,” Kormotech stated on March 16.

On March 17, Kormotech announced its partnership with several pet industry organizations to bolster its Save Pets of Ukraine initiative. The pet food manufacturer partnered with Greater Good Charities, Phillips Pet Food & Supplies, the American Pet Products Association, Pets Around the World and Matrix Partners to provide emergency aid to animal welfare groups and pet owners in Ukraine through pet food, medication and critical supply donations.

“Kormotech has been fulfilling requests with their own capabilities and pet supplies but are running out of inventory and cannot meet the demand being created by the destruction,” said Liz Baker, chief executive officer of Greater Good Charities. “This new coalition around Save Pets of Ukraine will help raise urgently needed cash donations to purchase medicine and supplies in countries nearby, as well as source food and product donations for longer term relief.”

Greater Good Charities is now collecting cash donations on behalf of Save Pets of Ukraine, which is being coordinated by U-Hearts Foundation, Kormotech’s nonprofit in Lithuania. Greater Good Charities will also support the initiative by sourcing product donations and coordinating shipments to Ukrainian communities through neighboring countries.

Companies in the United States and Europe are encouraged to participate by donating pet food, medication and supply products, including diets for dogs, cats, birds and other small companion animals, as well as collars, leashes, muzzles, cages and carriers.

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