The pet food sales grew 20 per cent in 2020 during the coronavirus-induced lockdown and now manufactures are looking to continue the momentum going ahead.
Manufactures like Mars Petcare, which owns popular brands Pedigree, Whiskas, IAMS, and Temptations, and Purina, owned by Swiss FMCG major Nestle, witnessed high double-digit growth last year.
The growth came not only from traditional channels like pet food stores but also from e-commerce platforms. Encouraged by the surge in pet adoption, manufacturers are expanding their product portfolio in India and launching new TV commercials, digital campaigns and online-exclusive products.
"There has been a rise in pet products as an overall category and an increase in demand for pet food. During the lockdown, many pets were adopted and welcomed home and pet parents started stocking up on products, especially the large bags, treats, cat food, etc," Mars Petcare India General Manager Ganesh Ramani told PTI.
There is an exponential surge in pet adoption as people are spending more time at home and alone. More younger people are opting for adopting pets.
Puppy adoption rates have gone up in the range of 50-100 per cent in 2020. The cat market has grown upwards of 40 per cent, he added.
On the growth in pet food segment, he said, "The market growth rate in India has accelerated since 2019 from 16-17 per cent growth (to) upwards of 20 per cent in 2020.
"Reasons that led to this were mainly people spending more time with their pets as they were stuck at home during the lockdown, adopting more pets, feeding stray dogs and cats around the city knowing that they were hungry, donating food to NGOs and many such factors."
As a company, Mars PetCare grew at a significantly higher rate than the market during the lockdown, Ramani added.
Nestle's Purina also saw increased consumer traction for pet food segment.
"Purina, especially in canine food category with our premium pet food brand Supercoat, witnessed encouraging consumer response. Among trade channels, we witnessed the contribution of e-commerce growing to our total revenue," a spokesperson of Purina Petcare India said.
Encouraged by the response, Purina launched its first-ever TV commercial for Purina Supercoat last year.
In 2020, about 85 per cent of the domestic pet food market comprised of dog food, while the balance was cat food.
According to Ramani, the domestic manufactured pet food market is only around 6 per cent of the Rs 2,500 crore market catering to 2.5 crore pet dogs and 4.5 million cats.
This has the potential to grow over 20 times, he said.
"We plan to introduce more products to cater to the burgeoning pet segment in India. As a trend, we see more and more pet owners shifting to manufactured pet food as people have come to realise that the nutritional needs for their pets cannot be fulfilled by home-cooked food," Ramani added.
Market research firm Euromonitor had earlier forecasted a 68 per cent rise in sale of pet products in India by 2025.
Sensing a good potential in the segment, Cosmo Films, a leading solutions provider in packaging, lamination, labelling and synthetic paper segments, had last year announced its foray in the pet care business.