People have always been serving human food to their pets. The nutrition required by pets is different from what the human body needs. Just like humans, even pets go through life stages where their body needs nutrition in varying amounts. It is important to meet these nutritional requirements of pets for them to live a long and healthy life. For example, pets require much higher levels of protein compared to human beings. So the food that we eat does not cater to the nutritional requirements of pets. Branded pet food like Pedigree provides balanced nutrition for the pet.
In an exclusive conversation, Ganesh Ramani, General Manager, MARS Petcare, talks about how Pedigree was started and what is the market size of pet food. He further elaborates about the consumer trends they are witnessing in these times and how the brand is embedding technology to strengthen its digital footprint.
How was Pedigree started? What inspired you to think that there was a need for innovation in the pet food industry?
In 1968, Mars took over Kal Kan Foods of Los Angeles. In 1988, Kal Kan Foods changed the name of its dog food to Pedigree, the name Mars used to sell dog food outside the United States.
We offer pet food suited for various life stages of the pet. We have not only brought innovation in pet food as per the age but also the flavors they are manufactured in. In fact, we offer a vegetarian variant in Pedigree to address the sensitivities of some of the Indian households. Just as humans look for options that may cater to their own health and wellness, similarly pet parents have started paying close attention to what they are feeding their pets as well.
Our Petcare business is guided by a simple, but powerful purpose, A BETTER WORLD FOR PETS.
- We want every pet to live with a caring parent and to get the nutrition and healthcare they need. We want them to be warmly welcomed into our societies, our cities, our homes, and our workplaces.
- Our 80 years of science and research means we’re able to offer products and services that meet all the needs of pets.
- Our Purpose means we go beyond just feeding high-quality nutritious food; we are dedicated to improving the lives of pets in all that we do from lobbying to raise standards across the pet food industry to our commitment to ending pet homelessness and helping shelters match pets to the most suitable families.
What is the market size of pet food, especially dog food in India? According to you, what are the factors propelling growth in this segment?
Pet food is about Rs 2,000-2,500 crore segment in India. Dog Food is about 80-85 percent of the pet food market. According to Euromonitor, dog food saw an overall growth of 18 percent in 2020. Furthermore, the overall dog food market in India projected to rise at 15 percent current value CAGR in the next 5 years with a forecasted rise in the sale of pet products by 2025 to 68 percent value growth. The factors propelling growth in this segment include people spending more time with their pets as they were at home during the lockdown, increase in pet adoption, feeding stray dogs and cats around the city knowing that they were hungry, donating food to NGOs to name a few.
Kindly shed some light on your current distribution, including online and offline. Going forward, what are the plans to scale-up the distribution?
We are available in all pet specialty stores, many veterinary clinics, supermarkets, large general stores, and pharmacies in all major towns across the country. We have also been strengthening the distribution in the smaller towns also. In the online space, we are available on all the major platforms like Amazon, Flipkart, Big Basket and Grofers.
Currently, we are focused on building our distribution in all major retail channels in both the online and offline space. We are striving to ensure that our products are available at convenient locations for pet parents.
What are the consumer trends you are witnessing in these times? How much sales growth and customer base growth have you seen during the pandemic?
Mars Petcare has been leading the category development in the country through various activities including the education of pet parents & other stakeholders in the industry regarding the right nutrition required by the pets. Consequently, Mars Petcare has been leading the growth of the category in India over the last few years. As a trend, we see more and more pet owners shifting to commercial food as people have come to realize that the nutritional needs for their pets are not fulfilled by home-cooked food alone.
Furthermore, with the rise of adopting pets and treating them as a member of the family, various trends such as accessories, insurance policies and pet-friendly camera installations are noticed. As a sector, the domestic manufactured pet food market is only 5-6 percent of the Rs 2,500 crore market catering to 2.5 crore pet dogs and 45 lakh cats. But this has the potential to grow over 20 times.
How are you embedding technology to strengthen your digital footprint?
We are digital platforms to both sell and communicate and connect with pet parents. We have a digital-first approach to our advertising. Through our short films, we look at reaching out to a larger audience and not only bring awareness about the current situation but also motivate people to adopt pets or feed strays to build a better society and world for pets.
What are your plans for Pedigree for the coming year?
We are focusing continuously on increasing brand penetration. This will be done through continuous education and awareness for pet food as a category. We have launched pet food at an attractive price point of Rs 20 and dog biscuits at Rs 15. This will aid penetration and trial for the product. We are also launching an expanded range of dog treats.