If you don’t know the definitions of factory farming, sustainable farming, ethical farming or organic farming, or how they differ from each other, you’re not alone, according to recent research by Frontier Pets Founder, Diana Scott. In this interview, Diana shares her vision for ending Factory Farming, and explains why this should be a shared goal among all Australians.
- Why did you originally start Frontier Pets? How has your vision for the business changed over time?
I want to end Factory Farming. I buy free-range produce for my family and donate to advocacy groups. I wanted to do something more significant. I realised that the pet food industry is a big contributor to Factory Farming because manufacturers use the off-cuts of Factory Farmed animals – to the tune of billions of dollar per year here in Australia alone. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be amazing, for our pets and for farm animals, if there was a pet food that only contains ethically sourced ingredients?”, “And wouldn’t it be fabulous if it could be produced in a form that makes it easy for people to feed?”
There wasn’t anything – anywhere. So I decided to do it myself. I contacted an animal nutritionist and worked with her to develop the recipe. Then I visited free-range farms: Chicken meat, Beef and Pork, plus organic fruit and veg suppliers and free-range egg producers. They all agreed to supply us, so, after developing a business plan, I started Frontier Pets.
My vision hasn’t changed. If anything, it’s gotten stronger! We have END FACTORY FARMING in big vinyl letters all over our office and factory. Everyone in the company knows about what we’re doing and why. To date we’ve contributed $1.5 million toward the ethical farming community. I intend to quadruple that in the next 5 years.
- What does ethical farming mean to you? How do you ensure Frontier Pets consistently follows this definition and value?
It means the raising of farm animals in a free-range system and growing produce in an organic system. Free-Range farming is kinder to animals – much kinder – and it allows animals to express their natural behaviour and instincts. Factory Farming also has a massive impact on the environment as over-crowded animals create disease, develop immunity to anti-biotics and are ‘enhanced’ through the use of growth hormones. Organic farming is not using chemicals which is better for the land and for the environment.
Frontier Pets buys produce directly from the supplier. The suppliers are certified organic or free-range. We investigate thoroughly the farm before we buy. Everyone in the company knows what we stand for and our value/s are posted in big letters on the walls of our office and factory.
- What are common misconceptions or misunderstandings around ethical farming?
It has come to my attention via a recent survey we’ve commissioned here at Frontier Pets that 52% of Australian’s don’t know what Factory Farming is, which is a bit scary.
The misconceptions that people make are understandable when you consider the marketing of products. “Sustainable” farming is a term that is bantered around a lot. It makes us feel that it’s a good thing for the animal and the planet. Sustainable farming does not mean ethical or free-range. Fish are the most Factory Farmed animal in the world, and yet many brands claim they are sustainably farmed. The “sustainable” farms are located in the sea in large water tanks, where fish are crammed together in ridiculously small spaces and experience lice and other debilitating diseases.
Free-Range eggs are also not necessarily what they claim to be. To be truly free-range, there should be no more than 1500 hens per hectare and yet many don’t come close to that.
So at the end of the day, it’s about education and stricter labelling policies.
What I’d love to see is a ‘where does this product come from’ label on everything, so that consumers can then make a decision.
- How has the pandemic impacted the business?
We were in a great position when the pandemic hit. We had already established an on-line business and are 100% Australian. Customers trust us so they feel comfortable. Our sales increased massively for a month or so – but that was more due to panic buying. It’s now at a steady level but continually growing as it did before.
- What learnings will you be taking from 2020 into the next few years of the business’ evolution?
The major lesson for us was the emphasis on provenance. Consumers are now looking at where there produce is coming from and making better choices.
We will continue to do what we’re doing – supporting farm animals, companion pets, the aussie farmer and the environment.
About the expert
Diana is the founder of Frontier Pets, a business borne out of a vision to end Factory Farming. Looking to do more than her contribution to monthly advocacy group donations, Diana decided she wanted to make a big impact – something that would make serious inroads into protecting farm animals from a life of misery. With a long background working alongside some of the biggest advertising agencies in the country, Frontier Pets founder, Diana Scott, reveals that her experience has given her an extensive insight into how important it is to understand the market, the customer, and what their needs are. Dedicated to filling a gap in the market, Scott invested 18 months in research and development before breaking into the Australian market to understand what drives her customer base, in Frontier Pets case, ethics and nutrition are priority. Diana took her idea, fueled by passion, and turned it into a business that is literally changing the world.
Image description: A headshot of Frontier Pets founder Diana Scott, pictured with her dog Frankie in the park. Diana is smiling at the camera, and wearing a red top and jeans.