Millennium Post (Kolkata)

India facing shortages of pet food: Govt body

Govt urges industry to boost production by taking advantage of existing central schemes


NEW DELHI: India, which has an estimated pet animal population of 29 million, is facing a shortage of pet foods, a government body said on Thursday and urged the industry to boost local production by taking advantage of the existing central schemes.

Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) Chairman O P Chaudhary, addressing a webinar organised by industry body PHDCCI, said the industry players can avail credit facility given under the Animal Husbandry Infrastruc­ture Developmen­t Scheme (AHIDS) for setting up animal feed manufactur­ing facilities.

However, pet food makers such as Mars Internatio­nal India and Royal Canine India said higher taxes, ambiguous business environmen­t, absence of uniform framework and quality standards are major hindrances for the sector's growth. "On an average, India requires 30,000 tonnes of pet foods. In India, there are pet food manufactur­ers but not sufficient enough to meet demand and quality," Chaudhary said while addressing the webinar on the pet food industry.

Some quantity of pet foods are imported but are costly to reach the people at affordable prices, he said, adding that the scarcity of pet foods was faced during the COVID-19 lockdown last year and the government had intervened. Asserting that a balanced nutritious diet is key to keep the pets healthy, Chaudhary said, however, pet foods are not reachable to every Indian pet owner because of the cost and availabili­ty.

Overall, animal nutrition is a concern for Indian livestock sector as there is about 35-40 per cent shortage of animal feed and fodder, he added.

Stating that the pet industry in India is growing at a faster rate, the AWBI Chairman said the government is taking measures to address the demandsupp­ly gap and assisting the private sector to invest in setting up of animal feed plant under the Rs 15,000 crore worth AHIDF scheme.

Under the scheme, up to 90 per cent credit is given at a lower rate form scheduled banks to the individual­s, MSME (Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise­s), FPOs (Farmer Producer Organisati­ons) and Section 8 companies for infrastruc­ture developmen­t, he said.

"The pet food industry can avail the opportunit­ies to manufactur­e pet food in India and meet the demand," he added.

Further, the Chairman said animal feed is not regulated in India at present. "There is no system in place for meeting licensing norms. Therefore, it is the high time to establish the pet food plants."

He also said that raw materials required for pet food is available in the country. India is producing 8.1 million tonnes of meat, out of which chicken meat is 50 per cent. "The offals are wasted and same can be utilised for pet food manufactur­ing. Not only chicken and meat, India is sufficient­ly producing foodgrains which can also be utilised," he added.

According to AWBI Secretary Sujit Kumar Dutta, there is a huge opportunit­y in research and developmen­t of pet foods as many are demanding vegetarian pet foods. There is scope for developmen­t of India-specified pet food, he added.

At present, India does not have many pet food manufactur­ing facilities as it is not considered as a profitable business. Since pet industry is growing at a faster rate, companies can explore tapping this sector availing the support given by the government under the existing schemes, he noted. Talking about opportunit­ies and challenges in the pet food industry in India, Mars Internatio­nal India General Manager Ganesh Ramani said about 45-50 per cent of pet food consumed in the country is met through domestic production and the rest is imported.

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