Inspired by the love for his three dogs, Ahmed Mamdouh opened Dog Fresh Food in Egypt in February 2016 – the result of his attempts to ensure his pets’ health and well-being in the face of the rising costs of imported pet food in the country.
Today, the 35-year-old former IT engineer and web designer operates the only fresh pet food factory in Egypt and provides his pet food through 27 distribution points around Cairo. He also sends deliveries to customers through his website and mobile app within 48 hours of receiving an order. Of course, he can also arrange a faster delivery time, for a premium, if a customer needs it.
Dog Fresh Food started with a single distribution point in Cairo; Mamdouh delivered a Dog Fresh Food fridge to a pet shop owner in Cairo he considers a friend. When he started, he was not sure of the success he would achieve. However, within two months, demand for his customizable fresh dog and cat food skyrocketed, and he has not looked back since. Selling more than 7,000 kg per month of fresh pet food, Mamdouh notes his success would not have been possible without his customers.
“My customers understand that dry pet food is not as good as fresh pet food,” Mamdouh says. “And it’s expensive.” He credits pet lovers’ rising awareness of options in Egypt with making his dream attainable, pointing out that his quality assurance process continues to attract more customers.
“The smart customers, who really love their pets, do research to find the good stuff,” he adds. “When they find me, they say it’s a good idea, and I respond, ‘It’s not just an idea anymore, it’s a business.’”
Despite a base of more than 650 active customers, 30% of whom are pet trainers, Mamdouh continues to innovate in the Egyptian pet food market. To ensure customer affordability while maintaining business profitability, Mamdouh offers deep discounts for his services: 20% on an order of 200 kg and 30% on an order of 300 kg. He maintains only a small factory staff of approximately 20 employees. To reduce costs, he has also streamlined his factory-to-delivery process, relying heavily on web-based systems to reduce customer interface costs. Nonetheless, he makes efforts to meet every new customer face-to-face to assess his or her pet’s needs.
His focus on research to satisfy his customers’ needs is a key driver in his success. Before starting this business, he took two courses on pet health and nutrition, which allowed him to experiment with different options without the use of preservatives. Using various combinations of meat products, rice, vegetables and omega-3 oils, among others, Mamdouh offers meals that work for the customer and their pets. Currently, he is offering four types of dog meals and two types of cat meals under U.S.$2 per kg, with business expansion on the horizon.
“I have received offers from two international companies for rebranding and selling my products abroad, but I did not accept their offers,” Mamdouh noted, citing his desire to maintain his independent brand. He is, however, keen on working with German and Russian companies that want to invest in his venture and establish Dog Fresh Food factories in their countries. He is currently undergoing discussions to travel to Germany to identify a potential factory site as well as to provide training to local staff on his operational strategies and food testing certifications.
By Lindsay Beaton
As work continues on creating a new nutrition label that focuses on simplifying information for consumers, challenges remain.
By Tang Yu