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This is my dog Shanti. Like 95% of pet owners in India, I give her homecooked food twice a day. But that behaviour is starting to change, and people are turning increasingly to tins of dog food.
This presents a huge opportunity for pet food companies. Some of the biggest multinationals in the world are starting to get more and more interested in selling to Indian per owners. Mars already sells its Pedigree dog food here. And in the last few weeks, Nestle has announced that it is going to relaunch its Purina brand in India too.
Indians have always been animal lovers, but the move to owning pets is relatively new. Today, there are about 19 million pets in India, up from 7 million in 2006. Two trends are driving this-- people are getting richer, and couples are choosing to have children later, giving them the time, space, and money to own a pet instead.
Despite this growth in ownership, the market for pet food and pet care products remains relatively small. And last year, according to market research company Euromonitor, total sales of pet care products in India hit $287.9 million, so that is up from just $97.8 million in 2012.
Multinational companies like Mars and Nestle, therefore, think they have spotted an opportunity to capture a slice of what they expect to be a much bigger area of business in the future. Nestle says it expects the market to double in size over the next five years.
In theory, it sounds great. But in practise, these companies have a challenge on their hands. India's fussy dogs are used to getting fresh, homecooked food every day. Are they really going to take so easily to a tin of Pedigree chum?