Montego Pet Nutrition – Feeding Pets, Globally

Montego Pet Nutrition is taking the best of independent and corporate schools of business to be a powerful competitor in the pet nutrition market.

Montego Pet Nutrition is the largest independent pet food manufacturer on the African continent. As both a manufacturer and a brand owner, the company is dominant in its operating channels in South Africa while also selling to almost 20 other countries, primarily in Africa and the Middle East.

Since its foundation, Montego has undergone a series of growth and development milestones. The company owns nine brands beyond its mother brand, each achieving widespread market recognition. The company has invested US$5 million in upgrading the firm’s existing facilities since 2018 and implementing sustainable manufacturing assets such as a reverse osmosis water purification plant and a solar plant. The pet nutrition company has also heavily invested in its supply chain in South Africa, purchasing nine depots around the country.

By the end of this year, Montego Pet Nutrition plans to have three major manufacturing facilities, growing its staff from its already impressive 800 employees.

The brand has been able to secure this dominant market position in its chosen channels thanks to a selection of unique selling points.

“It is an innovative company that stays ahead of new developments and happenings in the industry,” says Sakkie Luther, head of Montego’s International Business Development. “From an international point of view, our competitive advantage is that we have a product in each category. We can cover the whole range with our product offering.”

Luther is passionate about expanding Montego’s international reach and is extremely active in getting out there and meeting potential customers and distributors face to face.

“We’re travelling,” he says. “We go to the different markets, talk to the general consumer, and we are sitting in the distributor’s office drinking their coffee while we talk to them and that’s very different to what’s happening from a pet food producer’s point of view to what other players do.”

Montego is active in visiting expos and looking at the latest trends across the sector.

“We did a lot of that pre-Covid, and we will be exhibiting at Interzoo in Nuremberg next month as an opportunity to display who we are and what we are all about,” Luther says. “It is important for us to be there, as one of the top hundred pet food manufacturers globally. We are a serious contender among the top contenders. We are positioning the African pet producing industry as a player in the global arena.”

Maintaining the Supply Chain

While Montego’s reach is continuing to grow, it is doing so at a time when supply chains across the world are being stretched.

“I think our biggest challenge is the same one the entire global pet industry has been facing and that’s a supply chain issue,” says Luther. “With all the delays we have been seeing in China and the effect they have on our total supply chain, some of the factors we do not have any control over are making things difficult. I think those are our biggest challenges.”

While there is a range of macroeconomic and supply chain issues that can have an impact on the sector, Luther is optimistic that Montego is concentrating on the issues that it can control.

“The important point is to focus on the things we do have control over, which is maintaining a consistent supply to our customers,” Luther tells us. “We can try to overcome or manage supply chain issues as best we can by making sure we are supplying our distributors on a regular basis. If we make sure there are products en route. It means that if there are issues, we already know the next shipment is already on the way. We focus on ensuring there is always a consistent supply.”

The Best of Both Worlds

This is made possible by the great team Montego Pet Nutrition has put together. Across the company, there is a strong emphasis on training and development.

“We are training people in the basics of everything from finance to working as a receptionist to supply chain to merchandising,” Luther says. “We have a training centre in place to develop our staff as best we can, while recruiting to ensure we are only employing the best staff.”

For Luther this is not just about having the right skills, it is about making sure new candidates will align well with the company culture.

“It’s important to employ people who are a good culture fit, but are able to work independently,” he explains. “We appreciate people with enquiring minds. We are trying to employ people that can complement our ability to grow and strengthen our strategy.”

Montego’s culture walks a fine line, taking the best of both independent and corporate culture.

“We are an independent company with a minority share investor, we all know it is important to leverage the position that we are in now to position ourselves for future growth,” Luther says.

Luther explains that being an independent company gives Montego Pet Nutrition the flexibility to make quick decisions.

“I think there is a lot that is good in corporate business models and in independence,” he tells us. “We try to align those two approaches to get the benefits of both sides. We can make quick decisions and move forward and be on top of changes in the market, which puts us at an advantage.”

At the same time, Luther recognises the importance of structure.

“For a big multinational, listed corporation there is a structure in place. Montego’s growing years have outlined the foundations of that as well,” points out Luther. “There are other elements we still need to work on to drive our company into the future It is a unique position to be in. We know where we want to be in the future, so the question is how do we lay our foundation now? We are working towards still being a sturdy company even 15 and 20 years from now.”

Taking Over the World

It is a very long-term perspective for any company, but Montego has big plans for the future.

“We are quite an ambitious bunch,” says Luther. “We want to take over the world.”

While Montego’s ambitions are lofty, it is taking a practical outlook on how to make those ambitions a reality.

“We obviously know that to achieve those goals we need to take it in manageable sections,” Luther points out. “Our primary objective is to grow Africa and the Middle East to ensure we have a decent footprint throughout all those countries. We have ambitions to grow in Asia, and at some point, we would like to grow in Europe and the Americas, but we are trying to do it in phases. We are prioritising our approach to make sure we do not take on too much too fast.”

Currently, the company is looking at having its products registered in China, the first South African company in the market to do that.

“We also have plans to expand further into Africa, but the international side of our business will also be a bigger contributor to our overall growth,” Luther says.

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