Pet care businesses set to grow in India. But are we really ready? – DailyO

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Humans have pets to cope with loneliness and cure their anxieties, thus leading to a whirlwind growth in the pet care ecosystem- right from dog food, pet spas, family pet treats, nutrition, and grooming. But growth in this sector isn’t necessarily good in a country where a lack of government laws and regulations can often traumatise animals.

Why is the pet care industry growing?   When Covid hit the world, people either had no one to chill with or ended up wanting to have someone to chill with. The easy solution came through innocent pets, who could cure anxiety issues and help people cope with loneliness. As people spent a lot of time cooped up in spaces with their pets, the tendency to indulge them with treats and packaged foods increased. Thus began the change in people’s attitudes towards pets, known as ”pet humanisation”. This was evidenced by a rise in demand for pet indulgences that  often came in the form of pet treats, packaged foods, branded toys, and accessories.

Pet  cafes plus pet spas have been on the rise in metro cities for a while now. (In fact, I and my friends even spent an hour at a Pet Cafe to celebrate a friend’s birthday) So it’s not surprising that Mars Pet Products, one of the largest pet product sellers in India,   doubled its sales between 2019 and 2021.   As per Mars, substantial growth in pet ownership has led to a growth in the entire pet care ecosystem – right from retail chains, pet spas, pet nutrition, grooming brands, and pet spas.

In addition , pet parents also don’t mind spending on packed foods for their pets, since they understand that  cooked food that is consumed by humans may not necessarily be the best option for pets. And you always have Swiggy and Dunzo to get stuff delivered at home  conveniently, not just in metros, but even in tier II and tier III cities.  

The recent pet business acquisitions

  • Nestle India  recently entered the pet meals business by acquiring  Purina Petcare for Rs 123 crore.
  • Emami is set to offer Ayurvedic remedies for pets under the brand name ”Fur Ball Story” by investing in a pet care startup called Cannis Lupus Services Ltd.  

But are we really ready? I recently visited a popular locality in Kurla, Mumbai, which is famous for its long lineup of aquarium stores. What I thought would be a delightful time of my life, turned out to be the most depressing experience ever. Why? Shops holding a license to be in the aquarium business were illegally selling puppies, rabbits, parrots, parakeets, and even pigeons for God’s sake (as if they would help deliver love notes).  

Apart from that, 10 to 15  rabbits had been caged in small cages, a puppy  cried in a dirty cage, and caged pigeons almost looked dead. And that made me wonder, are we really ready for this so-called pet care growth where there are barely any regulations in place? Even if there are, where is it really being executed?

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