Image used for representational purposes only
Image used for representational purposes only

India's gourmet pet food market booms as owners splurge on exotic treats

The unprecedented surge in gourmet pet food products manufactured with human-grade ingredients shows how pet owners are splurging on their furballs

Google, Zigly, Emoji, and Zoom, two of whom are adorable Cavalier King Charles’ and two are Shih Tzus, are the apple of their owner Yamini Jaipuria’s eyes. While Google and Zoom love curated pizzas and peanut butter; Emoji and Zigly have a yen for anything with sweet potatoes and also exotic stews. “All four of my babies love different kinds of gourmet food. I prepare separate meals for each one, but only after consulting the vet to ensure these gourmet foods don’t upset their tummy,” she declares.

Jaipuria, the managing trustee of pet-care related Zigly Foundation and Cosmo Foundation believes pets often see themselves as humans and start imitating their owner’s traits. When they are pampered with delectable treats, they recognise their irresistible charm to their humans and ask for more. Jaipuria isn’t the only besotted pet parent. As per data released on Statista, the pet food market in India is expected to grow by 12.63 per cent in 2024 and garner revenues upward of $389.9 million. Further, Statista shows an uptick in the population of pet dogs which is expected to exceed 43 million by 2026. All these dogs, cats and other pets are running up monthly food bills of thousands of rupees for their owners. Pet food brands have been quick to cash in and have begun to sell exclusive human-grade food to pet parents that includes but isn’t limited to Atlantic salmon, boneless duck, quail eggs, dog wine and an array of bakery products.

“There has been a significant increase in demand for gourmet pet food. Pet owners are treating their furry friends like family, since they have more disposable income to spend on their beloved wards. People are becoming savvier about pet nutrition, and look for high-quality ingredients,” explains Dr Shashank Sinha, CEO, Drools Pet food, a company that prides itself on making real, clean pet food which includes vegetarian, non-vegetarian and vegan options. This shift can be accredited to the rise of smaller nuclear families where pets are viewed as valued members, leading to a shift in mindset in pet parenting. “Millennials, are at the forefront of this trend, and are spoiling their furry companions with premium pet products and services,” he reveals.

On Raksha Bandhan day last year, Rani Singh was seized with the desire to pamper her golden lab bro Scotch. She ordered special treats from Paw Petisserie, an exclusive pet bakery. The order included customised edible Rakhi cookies made with peanut butter, which Scotch absolutely adores. They came with special Rakhi-themed decorations, making the memory extra special for Singh. Once Scotch had polished off every last tasty cookie, Singh gushed, “This was the ‘bestest’ Raksha Bandhan ever.”

Yashika Arora, the founder-CEO of Paw Petisserie, believes the outlet’s popularity is because everything is made with pet-safe ingredients. Patrons choose from exotic delights like chicken or mutton ice-cream, different flavours of jams, doughnuts, brownies, breads and salami. However, their most sought-after items are their chicken jerky and mutton chips. “Universally popular ingredients are chicken, peanut butter, yogurt and mutton. Pet parents love our products because everything is human-grade. Even the colours used as decorations for cakes and cupcakes are made from fruits and vegetables,” she shares.

Pets with edibles from Paw Petisserie
Pets with edibles from Paw Petisserie

Interestingly, no matter how pretty the packaging or promising the treat, not all pet parents are taken in by these indulgences. Nupur Arya, who owns golden retriever Wally has indulged him with some treats in the past but isn’t sure how “gourmet” they actually are. “I’m not sure why more people are turning to these packaged and expensive treats. This could be for two reasons: to show off to other pet parents or to overcompensate for their own absence as a parent.”

Irrespective of sceptics or addicts, India’s gourmet pet food market is the new feast, because every dog has its day with an array of gourmet treats.

X
The New Indian Express
www.newindianexpress.com