Harrison’s Bird Foods has an 18,500 square food warehouse in Cool Springs filled with organic, high end bird food. / Photo Matt Blois
By MATT BLOIS
A Brentwood business has been making organic bird food without genetically modified ingredients for three decades.
Bird veterinarian Greg Harrison and his wife Linda Harrison started Harrison’s Bird Foods in Lake Worth, Florida in 1989. Now, the company has a warehouse and a showroom on Crossroads Boulevard in Cool Springs.
While working as a vet, Greg Harrison thought that many health issues affecting birds he treated could be solved with a high quality diet.
At the time, bird owners could only buy low quality seeds that were mostly carbohydrates. He worked with his wife to develop a higher fat and protein food for birds.
The bird food is a kibble product that looks more like dog food than typical bird seed.
Chief commercial officer Jean Coffinberry said the food tastes much better than dog food.
“I personally wouldn’t eat dog food, but I’ll eat this,” he said. “This is whole grain. This is high end. Even compared to the highest end dog food or cat food out there it’s an entirely different thing.”
While the organic kibble may sound like something from the menu of a new East Nashville restaurant, it’s intended for pet birds.
There are now a few competitors that also make high end bird food. Coffinberry estimated that Harrison’s has only captured a tiny portion of the total bird food market, which is dominated by lower quality, lower cost options.
He said the company is targeting serious bird owners who want to make sure their pet has the best nutrition.
“We’re willing to take less of a market share to be the ones that actually get the job done,” he said. “We could be ignored by your casual bird owner. We’d like them to know about it.”
Harrison’s was still based in Florida when Coffinberry joined 21 years ago. The company eventually moved operations to Nebraska to be closer to its source farms. The food is still manufactured in Nebraska.
Harrison’s opened its location in Brentwood in 2002 because the proximity to Interstate 40 and 65 made shipping cheaper.
The company now has an 18,500 square foot warehouse in Cool Springs filled with hundreds of boxes of bird food.
Harrison’s isn’t available in big pet food chains like Petco or PetSmart. They company sells through veterinarians or directly to consumers online.
The company also sells high end food for wild birds. Coffinberry argued that it’s important to feed wild birds organic food because the use of agrochemicals can have negative impacts on wild populations.
Going forward, the Harrison’s hope to reduce the environmental impact of their product and start a foundation that could benefit avian research and environmental conservation.