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Heating Up a New Category: Refrigerated Pet Food

Heating Up a New Category: Refrigerated Pet Food
Photograph by Tony Mendoza/Gallery Stock

In 2007, tainted dog food from China sent pet lovers across the country racing to their vets. The panic buoyed domestic pet-food makers such as Freshpet, which had launched the previous year and was struggling to convince retailers to let it install coolers in their stores to prevent its fresh dog food from spoiling.

Chief Executive Officer Richard Thompson expects that the 100-employee Secaucus, N.J., company will have $50 million in revenue this year, up from $30 million in 2011. The category claims less than 1 percent of the $20 billion U.S. pet food market today, but market researcher Packaged Facts expects it will grow by 25 percent annually through 2015. I spoke with Thompson, a serial entrepreneur who once headed the Meow Mix Company, about pioneering a new product category (that now includes ice cream); edited excerpts of our conversation follow.