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Pet Food Business Going Global

Pawsitively Tasty

The B Corp Pet Food Business Going Global

Gourmate Pet Treat Co. was born over a pub meal between old friends Laura Wilkinson and Steph Mearns in 2019. Launching in July 2020 at the height of the Covid pandemic, the company benefited from the move to supporting small local businesses.

B Corp certified, Gourmate’s emphasis on values and premium products for pets has seen the company grow since that time. We chatted to Laura.

What's unique about Gourmate?

We only use human grade ingredients that are sustainably sourced and have full traceability. We are conscientious about where we get our products from and our supply chain. We use products that have third party accreditation, where possible.

Laura Wilkinson and Steph Mearns

Our dog treats are organic green-lipped mussels from Stewart Island. They are big, juicy and full of nutrition. You can really tell the difference there. Steph and I are both dog owners, so they make great taste testers. Our dogs love all our treats – even 10 years down the track after freeze drying most treats, they still create a puddle of drool when I pull something out of the cupboard. It doesn't matter if it's hoki, calamari or liver. As soon as they see the bag, they start salivating.

You’re also B Corp certified – what does that mean for the company?

It's about understanding what our impact is and how we can continue to improve that, because pet ownership does come with an environmental impact. And it's about how we can reduce that and do things that are good for our workers, our community and our stakeholders.

Being B Corp certified was something Steph and I identified as being a way to communicate our values right from the start. We structured our business in a way that reflected what we wanted out of Gourmate and how we wanted to grow our brand.

Have you connected with other B Corps in Christchurch?

There's a high concentration of B Corps in Canterbury and it's great because we get together regularly. It's the perfect way to connect and really chew the fat and understand how other people are making meaningful change in their businesses, problem solve and troubleshoot.

What are the benefits of having a business based in Ōtautahi Christchurch?

Starting a business in Christchurch was a no brainer for us, being a smaller city and having a network in the community, it was easy to break into. There was a supportive group of people that rallied behind us and helped us connect with the right people.

What about the business innovation ecosystem here?

We've accessed funding from the Regional Business Partners Programme to build our capability and to develop stronger governance in our business which has helped us succeed.

We’ve also applied and been selected for some fantastic accelerator programmes run through the Ministry of Awesome, including Founder Catalyst and the Electrify Accelerator – both of which have provided great advice, knowledge and connections and supported our continued growth. 

I think businesses in Christchurch are just incredibly approachable. We've got a great community and I think we realise that we're stronger together.

What's your advice to other startups in the food, fibre and agritech sector?

My advice to startups is just do it. If you've got an idea, do your market analysis, do competitive analysis and just get out there and get going. It's exciting being in business that will challenge you in ways you've never thought possible. But it's so worth the reward.

And what's next for Gourmate?

We have launched two new ranges recently – cat treats and a pet health range. This year is about pushing those to our New Zealand and international markets. We will be going to a few pet shows internationally to promote our brand and continue to grow our presence in the market.