Drools Pet Food (Pvt.) Ltd., a subsidiary of the Indian Broiler Group, is continuing its expansion overseas. The company recently received its permit to export to Australia, and the company’s CEO, Shashank Sinha, expects its first container to ship out this month. Sinha explained that getting approvals from Australian authorities took over a year and a half to process, due to COVID-19. Now that the approvals have been received, the first consignment to Australia will ship Drools dry cat food and treats.
Established in 2010 in the Chattisgarh state of India, the company provides dry dog and cat food for the Indian market in 30,000 stores and has achieved more than INR 120 billion (US$1.5 billion) in sales.
“In India, we have a market share of 36%,” said Sinha. “Drools is the second largest player in India, after Mars. And the third player is Royal Canin. Combined, all three control 85% of the Indian market.”
At present, Drools is the only company in India with more than one pet food manufacturing plant, Sinha stated. Its current production capacity includes two manufacturing plants for dry pet food with a combined capacity of 4,800 tons per month; a third facility that will come online in December 2022, taking the total monthly production capacity to 7,000 tons per month. Drools also produces wet dog and cat food in 100g pouches, for a total production capacity of 200,000 units pet day.
“The Indian market is not a big canned pet food market, which is why we focus on pouches,” Sinha said. “We are also the only cat food manufacturer in the country. We have a 45% share in the dry cat food market and are the only company to have crossed 1,000 tons of dry cat food sales per month in India.”
While the company is continuing its overseas expansion plans, the priority market for Drools remains India, due in large part to the number of pets in the country. According to Sinha, the pet adoption rate in the country has doubled in the last two years, with 33 million pets presently. The categories of pet types are also expanding, said Sinha.
“Being an Indian company, we look to grow in this market,” Sinha explained. “We seek to become the first multinational pet food company from India on the basis of the growing pet food market. At present, only 5% of Indian pets eat dry pet food. The remaining 95% are still on table scraps, so there is a huge opportunity here for the pet food industry.”
To leverage the changing demographics of the Indian population for the growing pet food market, Drools has been partnering with veterinary schools across the country to teach fourth-year students about responsible pet ownership. Sinha himself is a certified veterinarian and wants to keep the focus on educating his fellow countrymen on animal health and nutrition. He sees the company’s veterinarian outreach as directly related to growing the business in India.
“That is why we have a huge channel with vets all around the country,” he stated. “If we move the needle of Indian pets eating dry pet food to even 10%, it essentially doubles the market pie. India has always been a pet food importer, so we want to move to a Make in India concept.”
The Make in India concept is the brainchild of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and seeks to make India a global manufacturing hub. Keeping in line with this Modi vision, Drools is attempting to orient itself for export potential in multiple markets, said Sinha.
“Already the company is exporting to 18 countries, with 10 containers shipped to Israel and Palestine to date,” Sinha told. “We are also exporting to the UAE, Oman, Qatar, Tanzania, Nigeria, the Maldives and Mauritius.”
To continue that expansion strategy, Sinha highlighted Drools’ attempts at exporting to Russia, which continues to suffer sanctions over the Ukraine war, including in terms of pet food trade.
“We are now trying to enter the Russian market,” Sinha noted. “And in the coming two months, we hope to receive the permit. It came as an opportunity for us due to the Ukraine war, and as Russian and India have a strong relationship in terms of trade, we have gotten lots of inquiry from there.”
India has remained a steadfast trade partner of Russia’s since the war in Ukraine began, and the two countries have reaffirmed their bilateral trade ties, despite Western sanctions.
However, Russia is not the only export market in the line of sight for Drools. The company is expecting to make an appearance at Pet Fair South-East Asia in Bangkok in October 2022, as it attempts to leverage its manufacturing capacity to export to that region as well.
“We are looking to expand to Southeast Asia, particularly, the Philippines, Laos and Cambodia,” said Sinha. “We are looking at expansion as our growth story over the next couple of years.”
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