Wednesday , 22 May 2019
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Pat on the back for pet food

Business is surging for pet food store owners in the state as local pet population grows by leaps and bounds, finds out Serilda Coutinho

 

With pet population increasing in the state the pet food sector is witnessing high demand these days. It is reflected in food suppliers opening up multiple stores stocked with the latest range of products to woo pet owners.

Branded foods are popular among owners and also food that are high on nutrients, according to store owners. They say that, pet lovers are willing to shell out extra in belief that it will prolong the life of their pet.  There is high level of awareness of the products available in the market, add pet store owners.

“Unlike the metros where residents live in flats, in Goa 70-80 per cent of the residents have their own house and require a dog to guard them,” reveals Prachi Pednekar, proprietor, Rani’s Paws n Claws, Porvorim.

According to her, ranking at the number one level is the demand for dog food followed by cat food. The range of foods available in various recipes in her store can even make human jealous. “The variety is amazing in the pet food industry. We have economical packs, gluten free products, as well as medicated chow available for dogs. If a dog is obese the kind of food available for them will be different from the normal fare,” explains Pednekar. The pricing for a kilogram of daily dog food ranges from Rs 200 to Rs 800 with a daily requirement of around 500 gms for a single dog, she informs.

Another transformation that the state has undergone during the past 10-15 years is the presence of advanced diagnostic technology. “Earlier it was difficult to treat a pet or work on their diet because of the lack of medical support available to us. But now the state has the infrastructure to support their needs and we can source products based on the pets food prescribed for their nutrient requirement,” explains Pednekar.

Looking at the potential of the market, Pednekar manufactures her own pet food. She makes dog biscuits and chew sticks under the brand name Wow. “We make a monthly sale of around 70-80 kg of dog biscuits as our pricing is competitive,” she adds.

With a lot of terminology involved in understanding the ingredients that go into the making of packaged food, customers constantly look out for an expert advice to make an informed choice. So store owners take care to guide customers. “We have posters put up at all the 12 pet food stores we own to educate customers on pet health and their nutrient requirement. My target is on brand expansion, creating value for the brand through availability of products and educating the users which is  only possible by opening multiple stores in the state,” says Rhys Da Costa, owner,  79 Pet Stop, St Inez.

Store owners also place emphasis on building a strong clientele base and investing on a trained staff rather than being choosy about the location of the store. Sahil Kenkre, owner of One Stop Over and Bark Avenue in Caranzalem has plans to open a new store in Porvorim to expand his business. Kenkre says that, having two stores in the same place never affected my business as I am confident of making sales through customer friendly approach and loyal clientele base. He further adds that, he plans on introducing fish, tortoise and bird food to the shelves in future.

Imported pet foods earlier had a strong hold on the market but now store owners see them moving back space as local brands offer half the price for the same quantity. “Most of the NG0’S and locals are price conscious so we find very few customers who will spend on imported brands. Also local manufactures have kept their pricing competitive considering the budget spends on home cooked pet food,” says Kenkre.

While dog food is gaining popularity among consumers cat food still receives a neglected approach in the state with the demand slightly lower, points out a pet store owner from Margao. “Cat food in Goa is not much popular as fish is easily available so customers are hesitant to opt for specialized food. However those rearing Persian breeds do spend on shop-brought food to maintain the quality of fur and the diet requirement of the breed,” he says.

According to store owners, every food items that is available for human are also available for dogs. The range in dog food is vast. They add that, pet food attracts Goods and Service Tax (GST) of 18 per cent. But virtually all the store owners are under the exemption bracket and therefore not affected by the high GST.

Looking at the growing preference for pedigreed dogs and Persian cats among locals which come with a hefty price tag, store owners foresee the local pet food market to continue growing. “Most pet owners have no time to dish out nutritive meals and prefer going in for ready-made food. The trend is changing. While earlier owners thought nothing of giving fish-curry rice to their pets, they are now conscious of avoiding oily food filled with Goan masala,” says store owners.

The Indian brands that provide budget products, are the fastest growing segment of the pet food market.