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Bon(e) Apetit: Pet food industry growth outpaces human processed food industry

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Posted on July 30, 2015: Recollect the first day you brought your pet home. As a loving and responsible pet parent, you made a promise that day - to love, cherish, protect and nurture your pet. Dog parents know that dogs are known for their frequent hunger pangs and we will readily accept the thought that dogs love their food. On an average dogs consume between 18-22 kg of food per month depending on their breed and size.

foodAnd as if we don’t spoil them enough with soft beds, rain wear, bow ties and pricey manicures, dog food too is now an expensive affair. According to industry estimates, the pet food industry has been growing consistantly at ~25% rate in India over the last five years and is expected to be on the same growth path for many years to come. The pet food industry is currently estimated to be around ~Rs. 750- Rs. 900 Cr.  

The makers and retailers of dog food have observed an upwardly moving trend in pet food spending by pet parents. The parents of Saint Bernards, Terriers, Cocker Spaniels and Labradors are happily indulging the apple of their eyes, Devendra Chawla, group president, food & FMCG, at Future Group told The Economic Times recently. In an interview with the paper, he said that parents are willing to spend on expensive food, imported toys and accessories such as fancy collars and chews. Exclusive dog biscuits seem to be the flavour of the season, he added.

While Vipul Parikh, co-founder at online grocery retailer BigBasket, said that as much as 10 per cent of overall grocery sales at his stores come from pet food. The 1-kg packs of pet food is one of the fastest moving item at BigBasket stores. Industry estimates reveal that, Mars International Inc., a US-based manufacturer of pet food and products, holds sway in the pet food market in India with close to a 70 per cent share.

dogCompared to the human packaged food industry, the processed pet food industry is growing nearly three times as fast, the financial paper reported.

"For many owners, pets are like their kids and with an increase in purchase power, their desire to find more ways to pamper their pets is a clear identified need. And growing pet accessories market is clear sign of that need," Mars International India director, corporate affairs, Nitin Kulkarni told The Economic Times. Mars International India sells Pedigree, Chappi and Eukanuba brands for dogs, Whiskas and Sheba for cats and chocolate brands like Mars, Galaxy and Snickers.

But before you indulge in expensive food and spoil the habits of your pet, take note of a few things:

Watch their dietary needs

Some animal nutritionists believe in the BARF or Biologically Appropriate Raw Food approach since dogs didn’t evolve eating processed foods. They evolved eating raw foods. According to some dog experts, a BARF diet improves their health, teeth, gums, and breath, strengthens their immune system, improves their coat, reduces or eliminates allergies. But all the same it is necessary to measure what and how much your dog requires. Their diet, raw or processed, should be a good mix of meat, eggs, beef, lamb, pork, vegetables, grains, dairy and fat. Reading the composition of processed food is absolutely essential to avoid allergic reactions. It is advisable to consult your vet before you start a new brand.

Gingertail also has a handy list of human foods that are safe and unsafe for your dog.

Comparing Food Brands

There are literally hundreds of different pet food brands out there and it can be a tough choice to make. But don’t believe that the most expensive food is the best for your pooch. Make use of your resources and thoroughly research the various available options. Talk to other pet parents and animal lover societies online to learn more about feeding your dogs the right way.

Check for authenticity

Like it or not, there are many contaminated food products in the market that are sold in the lure of budget prices. But a lot of them have proved to be fatal for dogs and other animals. There are dog foods on the market right now that use condemned meats, and have barely enough nutrition to keep your dog alive and healthy. Beware.

Make it yourself

May seem a little tedious, but every once in a while it is good to cook for your dog. There are several recipes online that can help you whip up a meal for your pet with simple, daily ingredients. And if you are wondering whether a vegetarian diet would keep your pet healthy, you might want to read this Gingertail article.

Keep it consistent

Although dogs jump at the smell and sight of food, doesn’t mean you can feed them new things each time. Dramatic substitutions can lead to bowel upsets but they surely will enjoy minor changes that add variety. Adding some human food — like well-cooked sweet potatoes to their dish, can help offer your dog a well-rounded diet with some variety that brightens your pet’s meal times. Never over feed your pet. Being overweight is as dangerously unhealthy for them as it is for us.

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