Animal Health News & Notes for September 17, 1999
PETsMART.com is launching full force next week with a major national television campaign promoting its online presence. The new campaign promotes having the entire PETsMART store delivered right to the consumer’s door. In combination with PETsMART, PETsMART.com will spend in excess of $50 million to promote the website.
The Iams Company and Pfizer Animal Health have teamed up to make September Senior Care Health Month, an initiative designed to encourage owners of dogs that are 7 years and older to visit their veterinarian in September for a Senior Care(TM) health check.
Veterinary Centers of America Inc. (“VCA”) announced that it has entered into an agreement to sell its investment in Veterinary Pet Insurance Inc. to Scottsdale Insurance Company for $8,250,000 in cash. VCA acquired its investment in VPI in January 1998 for $5 million and expects that when the transaction is finalized it will record a one-time gain of approximately $3,250,000.
Myriad Genetics and the Novartis Agricultural Discovery Institute today announced a two-year, $33.5 million partnership in cereal crop genomics. The genomic collaboration will focus on the discovery of the genetic structure of cereal crops such as rice, maize, wheat, barley and oats. The goal of understanding the genetic structure of these crops is to help plant breeders improve the quality of grain and increase crop yields.
Rhone-Poulenc S.A. launched the first step (pre-marketing) in the process of divesting its remaining 67.3% stake in Rhodia S.A., its specialty chemicals subsidiary. The entire transaction should be finalized by mid-October.
AVANT Immunotherapeutics announced that the company has received a milestone payment from its partner, Heska Corporation, based upon Heska having filed product information with the USDA. The payment marks the achievement of a major milestone in efforts to develop and utilize AVANT’s PCPP polymer as an adjuvant in Heska’s animal health vaccine against B. henselae, the bacterium that causes Cat Scratch Disease (CSD) in people.
Henry Schein has chosen Envirosafe’s Veterinary Care line for its Fall 1999 catalog. Featured is the “Super Healer” topical solution for wound care.
Polydex Pharmaceuticals reported that its Vet Vitamins sales rose by 80% in the first half of 1999, thanks to five new vitamin products.
Alpharma acquired I.D. Russell Company, a privately held manufacturer of animal health products, for approximately $20 million cash. I.D. Russell’s annual revenues are around $15 million in the US, of which 60% are antibiotics.
PetPlanet.com, Inc. unveiled its full-service online store. In addition, the company announced that its e-commerce agreement with America Online has gone live in the Pet Supply area of Shop@AOL, AOL.COM, CompuServe and Netscape online shopping destinations.
Europe’s leading dry dog food producer, Royal Canin, was cited as vowing Wednesday not to include genetically modified ingredients in any of its pet food lines. The decision by the Paris-based firm comes after British pet food producer Pascoe’s Group Plc launched the country’s first wholly organic, non-modified dog food line last month. In a similar vein, the Washington Post reported that The Iams Company would no longer accept genetically engineered corn for use in its pet foods unless the varieties were among those approved by the EU.
Premium Petcare and 3i have agreed upon significant funding that will enable them to create Europe’s first on-line petcare portal, to be called PetsPyjamas.com, the first e-commerce site for European pet owners and their pets. Europe is a 10 billion pounds sterling (pounds) market for petcare is as yet untapped by e-commerce. The initial target markets are Germany, France and the UK, which account for the majority of the 10 billion pounds annual petcare sales in Europe.
A recent report noted that the top five Gene Giants (AstraZeneca, DuPont, Monsanto, Novartis, Aventis) account for nearly two-thirds of the global pesticide market (60%), almost one-quarter (23%) of the commercial seed market, and virtually 100% of the transgenic (genetically engineered) seed market. Five years ago, none of these companies appeared on the list of leading seed corporations. In fact, three of the top five companies didn’t even exist. Zeneca and Astra merged to form AstraZeneca; Rhone Poulenc and Hoechst became Aventis; Ciba Geigy and Sandoz became Novartis; and DuPont swallowed Pioneer Hi-Bred earlier this year.
Nutraceutix, Inc. and Biotal, Inc. have announced the formation of an alliance to offer microbial feed additives to cattle feedlots. Nutraceutix manufactures Cobactin(R) microbial feed additive, marketed under the BioTechniques Laboratories, Inc. label. Biotal, Inc. has marketed the MICRO-CELL(R) Direct Fed Microbials since 1994. As part of the agreement, Nutraceutix, Inc. will manufacture the products, while Biotal will conduct the marketing, sales and technical support.
Speaking at the University of California’s Dairy Research and Teaching Facility in Davis, EPA Regional Administrator Felicia Marcus announced that EPA is joining a government-dairy industry partnership, and awarding a $443,740 grant to the State Water Resources Control Board to fund a U.C. Davis program that trains dairy operators on how to comply with clean water laws and avoid polluting waterways with cow manure. Water pollution from dairy waste — cow manure — is a serious problem in California. The state’s roughly 2400 dairies average 550 cows each, and a single cow produces 22 tons of waste per year. That adds up to nearly 30 million tons of dairy waste per year. This waste can be safely applied to croplands as fertilizer, but dairies must manage the waste carefully to keep it from fouling the state’s waterways.
A database of grain handlers who will accept biotech varieties of corn not yet approved
for import into the European Union (EU) is now available to U.S. farmers on the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) web page at http://www.amseed.org. The web site allows growers to search for grain handlers who will accept all varieties of biotech corn. Approximately 2,000 grain handlers can be accessed through the site. About 4,000 U.S. grain purchasers who were contacted said that they will accept all varieties of biotech corn, representing half of all U.S. grain handlers.
In a test run of how Japanese consumers would react if offered beef from the country’s ambitious cattle cloning program, the prospect of cheap beef apparently outweighed concerns of consumer groups that meat from a cloned animal might pose health risks. Prices for cloned beef are as much as 50 percent less than other beef. Japan has one of the world’s biggest cattle cloning programs, with the practical purpose of producing more cattle that deliver top quality beef at lower prices.
The Brakke Consulting Viewpoint
Focus group interviews represent an excellent tool for understanding relative customer needs, but frequently respondents have difficulty articulating exactly what they want in a product or service – mainly because they are preconditioned by what is already available.
Brakke Consulting has had excellent results incorporating a version of Conjoint Analysis ( a powerful analytical market research tool based on trade-off choices) into our focus groups. Having respondents prioritize up to eight options – each with varying product/service features – manifests their relative priorities. Most importantly, subsequent discussion provides critical insight into the reasons for these choices.
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