Mars International India, manufacturer and marketer of  Pedigree , is seeking to tap niche areas of the petfood market in India by introducing new products, according to an  article  on www.mydigitalfc.com . The company has introduced vegetarian dog food, keeping in mind the sensitivities of vegetarian pet owners, and will soon launch snacks and treats as well as specialized food for older dogs.

The US$20 million market in the country for petfoods is growing rapidly and is set to evolve into a size of US$74 million by 2012, the company said.

"The 100% vegetarian food is eyeing mainly the Tamil Nadu and Gujarat markets. A city such as Chennai, with a pet dog population of [100,000], has a market potential of US$12 million. At least 30% of pet owners in the city prefer vegetarian food for their animals," said Ajay Iyer, regional sales manager, south and east of Mars International India.

Mars has produced a vegetarian variant with the same nutritional and calorie levels as that of the non-vegetarian one. The company is also introducing specialized food for dogs of age seven and above.

Retail stores contribute 60% of the sales, with the rest coming through other distribution channels such as veterinary specialists, breeders and institutions.