Home / Companies / Start-ups /  Petcare gains focus as sales surge post covid

NEW DELHI : Indian companies, such as Emami Ltd and Mankind Pharma, are making strategic investments in petcare startups as they seek to gain a bigger foothold in this booming market. The homegrown firms are up against global food companies, such as Nestle and Mars, who are also looking to consolidate their presence in this market through both organic and inorganic means.

For instance, last year, Emami and Mankind Pharma marked their foray into the category through investments in pet medicine-centric Fur Ball Story, and pet food-focussed Dogsee Chew, respectively. Nestle acquired pet food firm Purina Petcare India in mid-2022.

“As a consumer-facing company, we like to be present, even in a small way, in emerging segments and new-age businesses, which has synergy with our current line of businesses and future growth potential. Hence the Fur Ball Story!," said a spokesperson for Kolkata-based Emami, the maker of personal and healthcare brands such as Boro Plus and Zandu Balm.

The spokesperson hinted at more such deals in the future if the target brand has a synergy with its current business and offers good growth potential.

Nestle is also bullish about the sector’s growth. “Increasingly, pets are making their way to more and more households. This combined with increasing awareness about the benefits of complete and balanced packaged pet food, would enable growth of the category in medium to long term," said a company spokesperson.

Meanwhile, many petcare startups such as Dogsee Chew, Just Dogs and Wiggles, have begun the process of raising more funds from institutional investors for expansion.While Dogsee Chew and Wiggles plan to raise about $20 million each, Just Dogs is looking to raise about $30 million from private equity firms. While Just Dogs will use the capital to introduce premium quality brands in the category of food, pet pharma, day care, treats, toys, grooming, training and control, Wiggles is looking for expansion of its veterinary clinics, and to boost its online presence for product categories.The main factors encouraging financial and strategic investors is the growing adoption of pets as companions during the pandemic, and the humanisation trend catching up with Gen Z pet parents.

“Pets are no longer treated as objects but as family. Pet parents go out of their way to care for their pets as they would do for their own children. Hence, the brands that offer clean, and sustainable options are becoming a hit among pet parents," said Sneh Sharma, founder of Dogsee Chew. Dogsee counts venture capital fund Sixth Sense Ventures among its investors.

The market is also seeing a sharp rise in pet food sales. “Per capita consumption of pet food is increasing as pets get bigger and packaged food sales have increased from $200 million in 2015 to $800 million at the moment, representing a threefold jump in the pet care industry. By 2026, the figure can almost double to up to $1.5 billion," said Varun Sadana, co-founder, Supertails.com.

The sector face some challenges. Startup founders said many petcare product sellers are taking undue advantage by dumping harmful products in the market due to insufficient compliances and regulations, and lack of awareness among pet owners.

While there is a sudden jump in the pet population in urban areas, the pet care ecosystem is still catching up, especially on meeting demands. “Industry mostly has to rely on imports but issues like covid outbreak in China, and the shortage of containers for exports have hampered growth prospects," said Sharma at Dogsee Chew.

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