An upward trend in pet adoption, especially after the Covid-19 pandemic , has provided an impetus to the growing pet care market in India, with organised players like Emami making a foray into the business. Even Nestle India is planning to use its distribution network to expand the reach of its global pet food brand with the acquisition of Purina PetCare India.
According to some estimates, pet food business is a Rs 4,000-crore market and growing in high double digits. A largely fragmented market, dominated by only a few branded players so far, has seen the entry of two major players — Nestle and Emami — in the past one month highlighting the opportunity in a market, which is growing at 25%. Mars Petcare with its popular brand Pedigree, and Himalaya Wellness are the other two companies doing brisk business.
There are approximately 30 million pets in India and the number is growing at 11% per annum across towns. This means 3 million pets are being added each year, according to estimates shared by Nestle recently.
Last week, Nestle India announced the acquisition of pet food business Purina PetCare India for Rs 123 crore, the pet food company globally owned by Nestle. While Purina was introduced in India in 2018, Nestle India had steered clear of it as Nestle S.A. built the business through pet speciality distribution network, and none of Nestle India’s products got sold through that channel. The Indian arm stayed away from it.
However, Suresh Narayanan, chairman and managing director, Nestle India, said the market has evolved since then. “With dogs constituting the main ownership in India, 75% of the market is dominated by dry dog food, making it the biggest segment. Interestingly, the wet cat food is also an opportunity and is growing at 35%,” he said.
Salil Murthy, managing director, MARS Petcare, told FE that India is one of the fastest growing pet care markets in the world. “More pet parents are now aware of the specific nutritional needs of their pets and that human food does not fully meet their nutritional requirements. A number of people during the lockdown chose to adopt pets for companionship and to experience the joy of pet parenting, which has increased the demand not only from metros but from smaller cities as well,” he said.
With the rise in awareness related to health, natural products and hygiene post-Covid not just in case of humans, but also pets, pet owners are now seeking the best products for their furry friends and companies are ready to meet the demand.
Besides the rise in the number of house pets, higher disposable income has also added to the rapid growth. Murthy said entry of more players into the market was a function of category growth. “It’s good to have a range of products for the pet parents to make the correct choice for the nutrition of their pets. We are actively creating awareness about the importance of providing complete and balanced nutrition for pets,” he said.
The pet care segment involves a good premium. For perspective, if Maggi noodles indexed price is Rs 100 for a kg, the average pet food is about Rs 140.
Harsha V Agarwal, vice-chairman and managing director, Emami, said, “Petcare segment in India is witnessing rapid growth. With rising disposable income, more people are getting house pets, especially dogs…The brand, Fur Ball Story, offers unique Ayurvedic products for the well-being of pets and meets the emerging consumer needs and aspirations.”
Last month, FMCG major Emami acquired a 30% stake in pet-care start-up Cannis Lupus Services. With an increasing awareness of the overall health benefits that natural products offer, consumers are more inclined towards items that are ayurvedic, the company said recently.
Cannis Lupus under Fur Ball Story brand would focus on the fast-growing pet care segment with its Ayurvedic range of solutions for common and recurrent ailments in pets, especially dogs.
Animesh Katiyar, founder, Cannis Lupus Services, said, “The mindset of people in India is changing fast from being just pet-owners to pet parents and as as a result, they are today more concerned of their pet children’s well being.”
The rise of e-commerce and quick commerce has also helped in the evolution of pet care segment from being a specialist channel to now having an omni-channel presence.
Industry estimates suggest that the pet-care business is expected to reach Rs 5,000 crore by the end of March 2026 driven by rising nuclear families, double- income households, urbanisation along with increasing pet ownership.