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Brainerd area pet food company wins Governor's International Trade Award

Barrett Petfood Innovations varieties as presented n 2013.1 / 2
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Barrett Petfood Innovations, which produces premium and exotic pet foods, received the 29th annual Governor's International Trade Award for Agricultural Commodities/Processed Food.

Lt. Governor Tina Smith and Minnesota Trade Office officials presented the award Thursday during a ceremony at the James J. Hill Reference Library in St. Paul.

Company President Mike Barrett, Tom Barrett, vice president of business development and purchasing, and Sarah Barrett, vice president of operations and regulatory affairs, accepted the award.

Each year, the governor's office recognizes Minnesota companies that have built exceptional global markets and have shown growth in international business during the past three years, with the likelihood of continued growth. Barrett Petfood Innovations was one of five Minnesota companies to receive the award this year, and the first ever from the Brainerd lakes area.

"It is our goal to become a global name in pet food manufacturing," Sarah Barrett said when accepting the award. "This award is a testament to all the hard work put forth to make this goal a reality."

Barrett Petfood Innovations has been producing super premium pet food since 2006. Its product line includes more than 150 different types of pet food, some of which are treats for exotic pets like monkeys, iguanas and other omnivores. Its dry pet food is distributed domestically to stores such as Walmart, Target and PetSmart and is exported around the world to five different continents, with about 35 percent of its total production going to foreign markets.

Last year, the Barretts saw a growth opportunity by attending the Interzoo International Trade Show in Nuremberg, Germany. Attending the show helped the company establish itself as a global manufacturer. The Barretts were refunded for the trip with a STEP Grant they received from the state Department of Employment and Economic Development's Trade Office. The STEP Grants provide up to $7,500 to Minnesota small businesses that want to export products or services to foreign markets.

The Barretts said local resources like DEED and the Brainerd Lakes Area Economic Development Corporation have been key in helping the company with its rapid growth.

"BLAEDC and DEED have been very instrumental in our success and growth," Sarah Barrett said. "We first learned about the STEP Grant Program while meeting with BLAEDC, and were able to connect with the Trade Office to begin the application process shortly thereafter. This was a great opportunity for our company and we are so fortunate to have organizations in our community that help connect businesses with these opportunities."

For more information, contact the Brainerd Lakes Area Economic Development Corp. at 218-828-0096.

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