In case you missed it, Kansas City hosted a global Petfood Forum on May 2-4, highlighting the pet food manufacturing industry. Attendees got to hear about the latest research and innovative information on pet nutrition, global pet food market growth, pet food safety, processing, packaging, and much more from leading, recognized pet food industry experts.
The annual Petfood Forum says on its website the event “provides the ideal opportunity for pet food professionals from around the world to network, exchange ideas and do business with one another and with the industry’s leading pet food manufacturers and suppliers.”
But something was missing at Petfood Forum 2022. “I don’t see many of my people here, but I do see opportunity,” Damien Mayo Jr., a high school basketball player from Bellerive, Missouri, USA, who is Black, told Petfood Industry. “There is potential for new businesses.”
Despite speakers like movie subject Coach Ken Carter (who invited Mayo to the event), diversity was not a theme at this year’s conference. For reasons that baffle, the pet food industry is just not a diverse group. According to attendees at this year’s conference, most attendees and presenters were of European descent and wealthier than most people on the planet. This is especially troubling when you look at the fact buyers of pet food at anything but racially divided.
“By me coming speaking, now we have an in-road,” Carter said. “When you have an in-road, you have two things. Now, you can ask the questions and you can be in the meetings. You can ask, why is this way and why is something that way? Now you can get the answers; you’ve just got to get to the right person. When you get to the right person, you can get the answer. Not all the stuff that people give you, all the fluff, you can actually get the right answers.”
Presenting pet food business and career opportunities to minorities may open new pathways for economic success that many may not have considered. On the other side, when a more comprehensive range of people work for the company, pet food businesses may benefit from a broader range of viewpoints, opinions, experiences and ideas.
Carter said he was surprised, in spite of the lack of diversity, how friendly everyone was with each other. One reason may be that the professionals in the industry are trying to be like the majority of the animals served by the industry.
“Everybody in the world loves dogs. I don’t care what color you are, what race, everybody loves their dog,” Carter added. “You could go away for ten years, but if you treated that dog extremely well when you come back, they’re gonna lick on you like you’ve never left. So that’s what this is all about, being kind and generous to everybody you meet and giving them an opportunity.”