Outlook: Wild Bird Seed Industry to Feed Big Opportunity for Retailers in 2014

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Global Harvest Foods, Ltd. Sees Sales Increase, Big Growth in Grocery

What are the top two most popular outdoor activities in America?

The first is gardening.

The second, backyard bird watching, often comes as a surprise to many except the 40.5 million U.S. households that participate.

Considering that bird feeding and watching is a consistent, year-round, all-region activity it makes good sense that the market size for wild bird seed and feeders is significant: $5.5 billion* in North America and growing.

After 30-years of experience in this industry, Global Harvest Foods, Ltd., producer of the Audubon Park brand, knows this point to be very true.

“We see many factors driving demand for wild bird seed and feeders today,” says Ed Mills, Global Harvest, Ltd. president and co-founder. “Most notably, our customers are a very passionate group. As we encroach on natural habitats more and more, our customers want to give back. Additionally, when we experience extreme weather patterns like the recent polar vortex or California drought, consumers are taking action to help their feathered friends through such challenging times. As they stock up on emergency supplies for their families, they are buying feeders and feed for birds too.”

Global Harvest sales increased significantly overall in 2013 compared to 2012 with the biggest gains, up to 20 percent, made in specialty products geared toward specific birds or functions. Grocery and Military retailers in particular saw big gains in the category. Grocery experienced a 19 percent and Military a 15 percent increase in sales over last year.

The featured chart* shows the top retail destinations for consumers looking to buy wild bird feed.

A few key indicators, including climate, seasonality and awareness, show how this category stands to grow in 2014. Consider these trends and facts:

  •     Extreme weather is driving awareness for the increased need to feed wild birds; bird seed purchasers know tough climate conditions affect birds natural food supply and purchase more seed accordingly
  •     Nearly one-third of purchasers expect to spend more this year on wild bird feed and feeders, and more than half will maintain their spending level*
  •     49 percent of feed purchasers buy regularly at least every two to three months*
  •     Among those who do not buy wild bird seed, half say they just never had, which suggests that with education and attraction in stores, interest could develop and move more of this group into purchasers*

Global Harvest offers these top tips for driving retail sales in 2014:
o    Seasonal Displays: Bird feeding is most helpful at times when birds need the most energy, such as during temperature extremes—especially snow and ice storms—migration, and in late winter or early spring, when natural seed sources are depleted. Consider special merchandising activities to coincide with and emphasize birds’ seasonal needs, including special displays on the sidewalk or inside near the front entrance of the store to reach customers who don’t typically travel to the bird seed isle.
o    Educate: Most often bird watchers want to attract specific birds. Help customers buy the right product by placing educational POP material that directs consumers to the appropriate type of feed for the types of birds they hope to attract.

o    Specialty:
     It is no coincidence that Audubon Park’s specialty items like Finch, Cardinal or Songbird blends saw an increase of nearly 20 percent in 2013. Birds will only eat seed that meets their specific nutritional demands, and the more seed birds eat the more customers will buy.
     Consumers responded well to products that make “less mess” like Patio/Garden and No Waste mixes last year. Sales were up 20 percent.
o    Safety: As the Food Safety Modernization Act goes into law this year, regulating the wild and domestic animal food market for the first time, retailers can start purchasing brands like Audubon Park today that have achieved early compliance. As a result, customers get an FDA-approved high-quality product and retailers don’t have to worry about issues from potentially contaminated food products in their store.

More facts about the wild bird feed industry and information related to specific retail audiences are available.

*Wild Bird Feed Industry Research Foundation Benchmark Study, 2013

Contact: Angie Malpass, Revolution PR, angie(at)revolutionpr(dot)com, 360-201-0183

About Global Harvest Foods, Ltd.
Global Harvest Foods was founded by the Mills family in 1982. A Northwest family for several generations, today's Mills Brothers Eric, Fred and Ed, lend their expertise and heart to producing the finest in specialty seed products.

Global Harvest Foods is a premier Wild Bird Food and small Critter/Pet food manufacturer with a 30 year history of delighting customers with our Audubon Park and private label brands for many “A” list clients. Company manufacturing & distribution facilities are located throughout the United States and are placed near key product ingredients and shipping lanes. This enables Global Harvest Foods to keep fresh raw materials for production and provide our customers with high quality, on-time delivery product. Global Harvest is proud to meet the highest-quality standards in the industry and has earned early compliance under FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act.

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Angie Malpass
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