Pet project turns into big busi­ness

A Ger­man en­tre­pre­neur has found a niche mar­ket af­ter set­ting up a com­pany sell­ing food that is spe­cially tai­lored to each pet’s in­di­vid­ual nu­tri­tional needs in a busi­ness which is poised to grow

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS - By ALYWIN CHEW in Shang­hai alywin@chi­

Franziska Gloeck­ner’s busi­ness idea in Shang­hai came af­ter a near tragedy.

In 2014, her golden re­triever Kolya al­most lost its life af­ter a se­vere food poi­son­ing episode and this prompted her to change the dog’s diet.

Af­ter dis­cov­er­ing how fresh meals dra­mat­i­cally im­proved its health, Gloeck­ner quit her job at a con­struc­tion firm a year later to start Paw­some, a com­pany which sells qual­ity pet food.

Ac­cord­ing to Gloeck­ner, the com­pany is the first in China to of­fer meals that are spe­cially tai­lored to the nu­tri­tional needs of cats and dogs.

“A unique sell­ing point of Paw­some is cer­tainly the cus­tomiza­tion,” said the Ger­man en­tre­pre­neur. “You can sub­mit in­for­ma­tion about your dog’s health con­di­tion via an on­line regis­tra­tion sys­tem.

“Our team of ex­perts will then put to­gether meals based on his or her re­quire­ments.

“For ex­am­ple, we have cli- ents whose dogs suf­fer from liver is­sues,” she added.

“We had pre­vi­ously ad­vised them to cus­tom­ize their meals in­stead of buy­ing our stan­dard of­fer­ings as those have high pro­tein con­tent. This is not suit­able for such a health con­di­tion.”

To en­sure the food is safe and of ex­cel­lent qual­ity, Gloeck­ner only works with sup­pli­ers who are trans­par­ent about the ori­gins of their in­gre­di­ents.

In ad­di­tion, the meats, fish and veg­eta­bles used in Paw­some prod­ucts are sourced from cer­ti­fied in­ter­na­tional sup­pli­ers and cred­i­ble lo­cal whole­salers.

Some of their in­gre­di­ents, such as cal­cium, have even passed pu­rity tests con­ducted by Wessling Con­sult­ing, a Ger­man an­a­lyt­i­cal and test­ing firm.

In terms of cook­ing meth­ods, all food is pre­pared through de­hy­drat­ing, bak­ing or freez­ing. For raw meals, the food is freshly made on de­mand and never pre­cooked.

Pet own­ers are even taught how to pre­pare th­ese meals us­ing sous vide sealed bags that help max­i­mize the re­ten­tion of nu­tri­ents.

Paw­some’s prod­ucts have been well-re­ceived in Shang­hai. The com­pany has posted 30 per­cent year-on-year growth since it was founded, al­though it has yet to dis­close de­tailed fi­nan­cial fig­ures.

En­try into the mar­ket comes at a time when an in­creas­ing num­ber of Chi­nese con­sumers are spend­ing more on their pets than ever be­fore.

Ac­cord­ing to con­sult­ing firm Euromon­i­tor, lone­li­ness and stress re­sult­ing from the pace of life in megacities are among the fac­tors boost­ing pet own­er­ship. The firm also found that there are around 30 mil­lion house­holds in China that own a dog.

The sec­ond largest econ­omy in the world is the third largest dog-own­ing mar­ket with Shang­hai and Bei­jing be­ing the key cities.

In March, au­thor­i­ties re­vealed that the trans­ac­tions in the do­mes­tic pet food mar­ket jumped from 19.32 bil­lion yuan ($2.8 bil­lion) in 2013 to 53.5 bil­lion yuan last year.

Ac­cord­ing to Euromon­i­tor, in­creas­ing dis­pos­able in­comes are also driv­ing growth in the sec­tor.

Gov­ern­ment data showed that China’s per capita dis­pos­able in­come last year was 23,821 yuan, up 6.3 per­cent year-on-year in real terms.

In 2015, the rise was 7.4 per­cent.

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