Queensland Government backs Sunshine Coast pet treats California dream

Huds and Toke

Premier and Minister for Trade Annastacia Palaszczuk said Huds and Toke is one of 45 Queensland companies to benefit from Trade and Investment Queensland’s $440,000 E-commerce Grants Program.

“E-commerce grants are a key part of my government’s COVID-19 economic recovery plan to boost Queensland businesses’ global marketing,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“COVID-19 challenged small businesses like Huds and Toke that were previously exporting through traditional bricks and mortar stores. These grants will back their pivot to more online sales, which is key to competing in an increasingly virtual global marketplace.”

Huds and Toke’s Emma Gibbons said the grant would go towards building a new US-focused international website to market the company’s all-natural, preservative-free dog and horse treats, particularly to the California market.

“We will relaunch into the American market with a new website selling directly to consumers, where previously we were a wholesaler,” Mrs Gibbons said.

“The pandemic smashed our US business around logistics, halting our momentum. We know there is a strong demand for our products, with some of our existing American customers asking us when we’re coming back.”

“A targeted US site is essential as we will sell directly to consumers who value their pets as an integral part of their family. This mature market is one we understand well.”

The family-owned business led by Mrs Gibbons employs 10 staff, most of whom are women, at its purpose-built Coolum facility where the dog and horse treats are manufactured, packaged, labelled and shipped.

“We take Australian raw materials like oats, rice and flour and value-add for a world-class product that is preservative free and has no artificial flavourings.

“Our horse treats are specifically designed for training horses in equestrian sports with high skill levels such as show jumping and dressage. We’ve created an extension to the sugar cube or carrot that is a healthy treat for the horses.”

Western Queensland-born Russell and wife Emma Gibbons started their business at their kitchen table in 2014, combining their training in stock feed manufacturing, animal nutrition and accountancy with a love of animals.

They continue exporting to Japan and Singapore and were making inroads in the US before the pandemic set back their plans.

Trade and Investment Queensland’s E-commerce Grant Program has recipients based in South-East Queensland, the Darling Downs, Wide Bay, Central Queensland, Outback Queensland and Far North Queensland. Companies needed to produce and export Queensland products, have e-commerce marketing plans and strategies for their overseas markets, and have been exporting for more than a year.

For more information visit tiq.qld.gov.au.