Open Farm co-founder Jacqueline Prehogan with her rescue pugs, Bella, Maddie and Duncan (Photograph by Vanessa Heins)
There’s a growing need for responsible and ethically sourced food—not only for our own health, but for that of our pets, too. It’s a demand that’s inspired Jacqueline Prehogan and Isaac Langleben to co-found their natural pet food company Open Farm.
A COMPANY IS BORN
One night back in 2010, Prehogan found herself stuck in traffic next to a transport truck full of pigs. She wondered where they were going and where had they come from? “As a lifelong animal lover, I set out to understand where meat comes from and how animals are raised,” says Prehogan.
After evaluating traditional farm practices and the food supply chain, she sought better, more holistic sources of nutrition for her family. “I wanted to provide a better option—first for ourselves and then for our pets,” she says. But, because healthier products for pets weren’t available, the concept of Open Farm was born.
THE BASICS OF BUSINESS
As a commerce accounting graduate and entrepreneur, Prehogan possessed several valuable assets that helped turn an idea into a viable business: her background as a CPA, financial knowledge and her previous experience launching Canada Pooch, a pet apparel and accessories brand, were all valuable.
“The finances of business are complicated, especially in the beginning when you’re doing everything yourself, from invoicing to bookkeeping,” she says. “My CPA training helped a lot as I had a good sense of financial literacy. And, as we grew, financial aspects became more complicated with fundraising and investors, but I was still able to pursue and execute these more complex transactions.”
Soon, what started as a Canadian-based business flourished into an international pet food company. Open Farm’s unique offerings and goal to make a difference struck a positive note with consumers, which has since led to exponential growth.
SOCIALLY CONSCIOUS PRACTICES
Open Farm is revolutionizing the way we think about pet health and nutrition. The company has formed partnerships with leading animal welfare and sustainability certifiers, and sources high-quality ingredients from humane farms and sustainable fisheries.
The company advocates for nutritious ingredients, animal welfare, sustainability and climate action while incorporating these ideals into their business practices.
“What has made us successful from the beginning is that we have always strived to be different,” says Prehogan. She notes that it was the first pet food company to obtain leading animal welfare certifications on 100 per cent of its meat.
ENSURING AN ETHICAL FOOD CHAIN
The way that Open Farm sources food comes from the concept that healthier, happier farm animals lead fuller lives and, in turn, produce more nutritious beef, pork and poultry. “Our entire supply chain ensures that animals are raised with kindness and respect,” says Prehogan.
Open Farm’s partnerships with Global Animal Partnership and Certified Humane ensures that the livestock are fed a well-balanced diet, which means that the meat that goes into their pet food is free of antibiotics and hormones.
Fish is exclusively wild-caught, so it’s free of antibiotics and artificial feed. The methods used to catch fish minimize bycatching and impact to the marine environment and sea floor, while also adhering to Ocean Wise and/or the Marine Stewardship Council sustainability standards on sourcing.
The farms used to create the pet food are routinely audited by third-party certifiers Global Animal Partnership and Certified Humane and, if suppliers don’t uphold ethical practices, Open Farm won’t work with them.
Open Farm tracks everything that goes into a pet’s bowl back to its source and prides itself on the ability to be completely transparent about what goes into its products. “We go to the ends of the Earth to create the best food for your pet, so they live a long, happy life,” says Prehogan.
Customers can even trace ingredients themselves by scanning a code on the packaging. “We think giving knowledge to the pet parent is power, so they know exactly what they’re feeding their pet and can make a decision for themselves,” she adds.
BECOMING THE NEXT GLOBAL PET FOOD BRAND
In less than six months, after launching in Toronto in 2014 with distribution across Eastern Canada and Northeastern United States, the company quickly expanded west across both countries and secured an extensive network of pet store retailers. Open Farm products can currently be found in more than 6,500 stores across Canada and the U.S., as well as in Australia, China, South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Growing from a staff of two to 85, Open Farm has now set its sights on expanding to Europe and building their current presence in Asia. They’ve also pledged that, by 2030, they will reduce their carbon footprint by 42 per cent.
What keeps them going? Prehogan and Langleben’s own rescues pugs, Bella, Maddie and Duncan, who deserve the best because they’re part of the family, too.
CPA-LED RETAIL INNOVATIONS
Read about the company that makes reselling more sophisticated, the zero-waste cleaning products (that are also great for travel) and the plant-based burger business.