Honoring Blue with the True Blue Promise
Blue Buffalo started with a simple idea: "Love them like family. Feed them like family."
Entrepreneurs Bill Bishop and his sons Billy and Chris founded Blue Buffalo to honor their beloved family dog, Blue.
Blue struggled with three bouts of cancer, the #1 disease-related threat to the lives of our dogs and cats.
The Bishops wanted to feed him the best food possible, so they searched for food with high-quality ingredients, but decided to create something even better – natural pet food for dogs and cats with the finest ingredients, real meat first, and some of the highest standards in the industry.
In 2003, they founded Blue Buffalo. They made it their mission to bring transparency to the pet food industry by educating pet parents to look beyond the pictures on the packaging and to focus on the ingredients in the food.
The Bishops worked with animal nutritionists and a holistic veterinarian to create a pet food that was made with high-quality, natural ingredients plus the extra supplementation of its exclusive LifeSource Bits – a blend of antioxidants and nutrients that are cold-formed to preserve their potency. This product, called Life Protection Formula, was the brand’s first launch and remains the top-selling product today.
"As concerned pet parents, my wife Jackie and I were disturbed to learn that many well-known brands contained things like chicken by-product meal, corn gluten meal and artificial flavors and colors. Not exactly ingredients that we wanted to feed our boy Blue,” says Bill Bishop, Blue Buffalo Founder. "And since we were pretty certain that many other pet parents would share our feelings, we decided to develop a pet food that would provide a diet of high-quality, natural ingredients. We also decided to take the risk that we could build a business that people would actually care about by educating pet parents on what we believe is a major disconnect between the ingredients they are expecting to be in the dog and cat food they are buying and the ones that are actually in the bag."
This simple idea – broadly known as “the humanization of pets” – has and continues to lead pet parents to evaluate pet food the same way they scrutinize their own food choices.
As pet parents seek better, more wholesome options for themselves, they also seek these options for their pets.
As a result, pet parents are willing to pay a premium for Wholesome Natural Pet Food that enhances their pets’ lives. Blue Buffalo doubled down on its commitment to high-quality natural ingredients in their pet food with the Blue Buffalo "True Blue Promise."
The inspiration behind the name
The Bishop Family named the brand “BLUE” in honor of the furry family member who inspired its creation.
The "Buffalo" in the name was inspired by buffalos roaming free on the Great Plains at a time when things appeared to be more pure, natural and healthy. Some Native American tribes even considered buffalos to be the protectors of animals, which made for a perfect symbol for the brand and the company the Bishops wanted to build.
The evolution of the brand
The Bishop family established its first offices in a barn in Wilton, Connecticut in 2002. By early 2003, PetSmart agreed to sell Blue Buffalo’s products in a 240-store test, and they started shipping to PetSmart in August of that year.
Supported by the first-of-its-kind Pet Detectives, pet-passionate team members who interact with pet parents one-on-one as they shop for pet food in specialty stores in the U.S., Blue Buffalo started taking off in 2004, and in the summer of 2006, PetSmart started selling Blue Buffalo products in all its stores.
Also in 2003, the Bishop Family founded the Blue Buffalo Foundation, which was devoted to raising funds for pet cancer in honor of Blue.
They declared May as Pet Cancer Awareness Month, which is still widely celebrated to this day.
To date, Blue Buffalo has raised over $30 million for pet cancer research. Much of this was raised through Blue Buffalo's close partnerships with the Petco Love Foundation and Morris Animal Foundation, a leading nonprofit funder of research to advance animal health, who is working to improve our understanding of cancer risk factors, including genetic, nutrition, environment and lifestyle, in small companion animals.
In 2015, Blue Buffalo celebrated its initial public offering (IPO) on the heels of becoming the #1 natural pet food brand in the U.S., just a few years after the brand was born.
In 2018, General Mills acquired Blue Buffalo. The addition of Blue Buffalo established General Mills as the leader in the Wholesome Natural pet food category, the fastest-growing portion of the massive U.S. pet food market, and accelerated the company's portfolio reshaping strategy.
By this point, Blue Buffalo had developed a vast portfolio of natural pet food and treats across life stages, diets and breed sizes, helping pet parents feed and treat their pets like family.
To better help pet parents also LOVE their pets like family, Blue Buffalo launched its Buddies by Blue Buffalo app in 2021. Buddies is a digital experience designed to help you be the best pet parent you can be.
The Buddies app has many useful features, from connecting with a community of other pet parents, tracking your pet’s activities, and getting advice to shopping for your pal and earning points for exclusive rewards — all in one place.
Blue Buffalo today
Many things have changed since the beginning: the office is no longer a barn, BLUE went public in 2015, owned manufacturing sites were built, new channels have been pioneered, the “HERD” of Blue Buffalo employees has grown, and over 20 million and counting pet parents now feed their pets Blue Buffalo food and treats.
But Blue Buffalo's mission to love, feed and treat all pets like family remains steadfast. The brand continues to shape the pet food industry and lead the way in the humanization and naturalization of pet food and treats.
BLUE also remains committed to helping find a cure for pet cancer. Today, BLUE is a major supporter of pet cancer awareness and continues to help fund research grants to top veterinary research institutions in the U.S.
To learn more about Blue Buffalo, visit bluebuffalo.com.