Drools is expanding its footprint in leaps and bounds within India. The flagship brand of IB Group, set in 1985 with business in poultry and hatchery, has been on a winning spree over domestic and national competition on product quality ever since it was set up in 2010. The brainchild of Fahim Sultan, Drools Pet Food Ltd., is now available in the diversifying networks of e-commerce, general trade, pet shops, vet clinics, and retail. Rakhi Rana, Sales Director, Drools Pet Food Pvt Ltd, talks about how the improving demographic of pet parents is benefiting the industry as a whole.
Pet Humanization and Equity
Pet humanization hasn’t scratched the surface yet in India as nuclear families keep increasing. Although surveys peg the pet population to be close to 31 million, the calorie conversion score is just 8%. That’s because a huge chunk of the population still needs to learn about pet equity. “The first myth to debunk is feeding human consumption food to pets. That’s often unhealthy and we recommend packaged pet food for the same, as they have the right nutritional balance,” says Rana.
A positive trend in this regard is couples in metro cities exploring the option of pet parenting, either for life or as a means of self-training before becoming parents to a human child. Secondly, new vet clinics are increasing awareness alongside breeders and groomers. They cater to the much-informed Gen Z customers who are particular about pet nutrition.
Drools being the only manufacturer of cat food brings in added trust. At a time when more than 50% of India’s pet food demand is catered to by imported brands, Drools is bridging the demand-supply gap by expanding production facilities.
“We’ll come up with the third manufacturing plant in a month’s time. We have been exporting products for the past 10 years and are present in 22 countries across the Middle-east, Indian subcontinent and south-east Asia, including Australia. Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Israel, Palestine, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and more. In the next 2-3 years, our aim is to touch base with 45 countries,” Rana says.
Achieving such an ambitious target can be possible only with a solid back-end support, and the production facility of IB Group ensures that Drools products are made of chicken products that are fit for human consumption. “We don’t use chicken by-products. Almost 95% of our ingredients such as chicken are in-house. That is why we are a favorite among importers. As a dog-and-cat food manufacturer, we produce a large assortment – ranging from dry pet food, wet pet food, treats that include biscuits, calcium, bones and sausages, veterinary diets, supplements, toys, shampoos, cat litter. This is our USP,” she maintains.
Remote India Expansion
At present, Drools has 38 depots and Cost and Freight (CNF) warehouses, which cover an area of 5,30, 000 sq ft. In the next few months, the brand will double down on their infrastructure in Pune and Delhi, raising the statistic to 5,80,000 sq ft, excluding the mother warehouse capacity. This aids Drools’ direct-to-retail supply chain standing at 65 percent share now. To increase the retail penetration, the brand is eyeing mom-n-pop kirana stores and pharmacies, and is beefing up its manufacturing power, and while working with various software to have a predictive inventory management, logistics optimization, and production efficiency.
Five years back, contribution of e-commerce in the Indian pet food industry was 10 percent; now, its 22 percent. For Drools, e-commerce contribution to sales rose from 4 percent to 27 percent. With few pet shops in tier 3-4 regions, eCommerce works phenomenally for the brand’s customers with better reach. Most of the time, customers buy pet food after exhausting existing packs and before they shift to home-cooked food, which we don’t recommend. With quick commerce, supplies reach them in 10 minutes,” says Rana.
Celeb Endorsement and Community Building
Drools has had the widest network of celebrity endorsements, starting from Disha Pathani in 2019 to Jacqueline Fernandez, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Hrithik Roshan, and Ananya Pandey. Such a mammoth push has brought Drools on the radars of families without pets. There are a couple of other interesting activities that Drools engages in for community development. Their campaign with WeWork, in which they floated Drools products with 10 percent off on Flipkart, has done well. The brand has also partnered with Metro Cash and Carry, in which they promoted Drools products with Aashirvaad Atta and Madhur Sugar as giveaways, thus gaining huge traction.
Since the pet food industry is in its nascent stage in India, it makes all the more reasonable for brands such as Drools to sensitize and build the stakeholders in the ecosystem first, while continuing CSR activities such as feeding strays with support from NGOs. “Our internal pan-India program titled Bandhan engages in 15 monthly events, wherein about 40 breeders including veterinarians and nutritionists learn how to take care of pet mum and pup, before and after ethical breeding. We do interactive live sessions every Sunday on Instagram for end-users on various topics such as pet heath, training and behavior. Our macroscope program provides consultancy to veterinarians studying in colleges and guides them with career options after completing college,” concludes Rana.