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Home Women Business News On World Ocean Day, Chippin Launches Dog Food Made From Overpopulated Carp

On World Ocean Day, Chippin Launches Dog Food Made From Overpopulated Carp

Back in 2014, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers made an alarming announcement: it would take decades and billions of dollars to defend the Great Lakes from the pending onslaught of an invasive species of fish called silver carp. The ravenous fish breed, which was first brought from Asia to the states in the 1970s to combat algae growth, had already infested Illinois and Mississippi rivers and was making its way upstream to Lake Michigan. If major measures were not taken to combat the problem, the region’s $7 billion-a-year fishing industry could be in peril. So far, state and federal governments have spent nearly $1 billion attempting to defend the Great Lakes.

Today, sustainable dog food startup Chippin announced that it is joining the fight against the invasive species by introducing a line of kibble made from silver carp, which it says has similar nutritional benefits to salmon protein in that is high in omega-3s while lacking toxins like mercury. The company claims it is currently the only private sector solution for dealing with excess of the invasive species.

“Up to this point, there has not been domestic demand for silver carp,” explains Chippin cofounder and CEO Haley Russell, who appeared on the Forbes Under 30 list in 2020 alongside cofounder Laura Colagrande. “We set up a new model partnering directly with a fishery out in Kentucky, whereby all of the fish we buy can be traced down to the exact fisherman that caught it that day.”

Chippin was founded in 2019 as a way for pet owners to help “chip-in” in the fight against climate change. Though raised in a vegetarian household, Russell always wondered why her family continued to serve their family dog meat products in the form of kibble made from salmon, chicken or beef. As it turned out, those were simply the only options on the market. So while she was in business school at the University of Pennsylvania, Russell began researching alternate proteins for dogs that were less harmful to the environment because they did not rely on overfished salmon or the high carbon-emitting livestock industry.

Proteins are the most resource-intensive part of any meal, including pet food. While protein-alternatives have gained widespread popularity for humans thanks to companies like Beyond Burger and Impossible Foods, the average household poodle’s diet has remained largely unchanged by the trend. So far, the company has focused on cricket and algae-based protein dog treats that can be found in retailers like Petco. The carp kibble will be the company’s first daily dog food offering.

“From a business standpoint, this is an exciting opportunity because we know pet food is one of the products that people want to subscribe to get on a regular basis,” says Russell, who is looking to clean up $37 billion U.S. pet food industry. “We’ve gotten so many requests from people for daily food… There’s a really high customer lifetime value potential.”

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