Many people are unaware of the real nutritional needs of their pets, so why the sudden rise in specialized pet food startups during the pandemic? The past year there have been an emerging number of pet food companies developing alternative proteins, functional nutrition solutions, wellness supplements and pet care technology in a bet to “fetch” attention from investors.
Over six billion in pet food sales are expected to shift from brick-and-mortar to online sales by 2024, according to Packaged Facts.
European pet startups have been happily riding a renewed wave of interest, and we have been seeing a flurry of growth in sectors that mirror current pet nutrition needs including personalized food boxes and home deliveries. We’ve scouted out the most promising startups that were founded in the last 5 years and are currently growing their team size in leaps and bounds, as well as closing funding rounds fast.
Last year we had the pleasure of interviewing sustainable pet nutrition pioneer Wild Earth who told us that 25% of the worlds carbon footprint comes from the pet food industry. We almost didnt believe it! As it turns out animal agriculture has a massive environmental impact which in the last few years has led to the emergence of a number of new, more sustainably driven pet nutrition startups looking to change the sector for the better.
CEO of Wild Earth, Ryan Bethencourt; “The entire pet food industry is rotten to its core”.
Pet crazy in the US
Europe may be riding a new sustainable pet food high but its North America that holds the real crown to the pet food market’s growth. A study shows that nine out of ten Americans who own pets state them as a part of the family. According to the 2018 National Pet Owners Survey, conducted by the American Pet Products Association (APPA) 68% of United States households owned a pet with pet expenditure in the country increasing from 41.2% in 2007 to 69.4% in 2018.
Research shows that quality ingredients are of the utmost importance for American pet owners. With the increase in concern for pet health, the demand for pet food products is expected to have a high potential for growth.
Beyond the US there has also been a recent souring in nutrition and healthy lifestyle awareness in the pet-food industry, as consumers start focusing increasingly more on premium alternatives for their beloved pets.
Butterbut Box (UK)
Founder/s: David Nolan, Kevin Glynn
Founding year: 2016
Funding: More than €40M
Butternut Box, the leading fresh food delivery brand for dogs in Europe announced back in February last year that it had received a significant strategic investment from the European fund of L Catterton, the largest and most global consumer-focused private equity firm who is now their international growth partner.
Founded in 2016, Butternut is the leading human-grade cooked fresh dog food company offering a unique and digital approach enabling customers to experience a new category of fresh, healthy dog food with unsurpassed quality, convenience and affordability.
Bella & Duke (Scotland)
Founder/s: Mark Scot and Tony Ottley
Founding year: 2016
Bella and Duke was founded in 2016 when both founders lost pets to terminal illnesses which they believe were triggered by harmful ingredients in processed dog foods. The startup specializes in raw pet food delivered frozen through a home subscription service and has now added an extra 5,000 delivery slots to cope with soaring demand during lockdowns with a month-on- month growth of 163%.
The company recently companied their souring pandemic success with a funding round worth 3.9 million euros in order to expand its operations and serve more than 45,000 dogs across the UK.
Founder/s: Demis Torres
Founded year: 2015
Barcelona-based Mascoteros is among one of the first marketplaces for pets in Spain offering an app to locate a wide range of locally-sourced pet products. It lists products and accessories for dogs, cats, birds, fish and other animals. Back in May this year they raised €1 million seed funding from Kibo Ventures and several other investors in order to expand both its team and its online presence amid covid´s e-commerce surge.
The startup has been perfecting its sales platform over the past three years now, targeting small veterinary clinics and wholesalers. Under this successful business model Mascoteros has managed to turn over more than 5.9 million euros in 2019 alone, and back in May CEO Rafael Mastroianni predicted this number would reach new heights due to the pandemic; “With the coronavirus pandemic we are doubling sales these months. We now have 250,000 repeat customers and we believe we will reach half a million by the end of the year.” Do you think they made it?
Entoma Petfood (Denmark)
Founder/s: Luxidan Nirmalananthan
Founded year: 2016
Danish pet food startup Entoma Petfood is also another pet nutrition company operating with the best intentions to provide good for our dogs and our planet. They develop natural treats and complete food based on insect-based protein sources – or more specifically, Hermetia illucens. It claims to focus on quality and sustainability and ensure that natural products are beneficial not only for the dogs but also for the planet.
Back in 2018, Entoma Petfood first marketed its first complete range including dog treats and kibbles based entirely on insect protein, made from 100% natural raw materials sourced from Europe.The insects are bred in Holland, France and Austria. The startups international dimension has been deeply rooted from the start, first launched in its native Denmark, then at Interpol in Germany and then onto the French market. At the start of last year co-founder Rachelle Cantet explained that; “ In 2020, we will be distributed in France (70 points of sale), Denmark (250 points of sale), Italy, Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany, England, Benelux, Hungary / Croatia, and in South Korea, Taiwan and Hong-Kong ”.
Founder/s: Basile Laigre
Founded year: 2020
After Entoma set the tone for insect-based pet food French Reglo burst on the scene. The early stage startup founded just before the true breakout of the corona virus. It offers a sustainable, transparent and ethical alternative to meat and fish adapted to the digestive system of dogs. Its kibble recipe replaces meat with sustainability produced insect proteins. It claims that insects provide all the essential animate acids, fats and minerals that your dog needs. The proteins in these come from black soldier fly larvae. These French farmed larvae contain 60% protein, which is more than double the protein present in beef or chicken for the same amount.
In addition to their considerable environmental benefits, insects are lifelong friends for the transit of your beloved animals. Indeed, they are true condensates of proteins, offering much better nutritional qualities than offal and meat by-products. The startups kibbles are guaranteed free from any artificial substance or allergen. Only insect meal and good little vegetables. Unlike the majority of kibbles on the market which include meat and cereals, while several specialists agree that many dogs have intolerance to the latter.