Nearly 1.4 billion people live in India, a country covering an area of nearly 3.3 million km2. Dogs and cats have naturally always been present there, but the majority have generally lived wild on the streets of the villages and towns. No particularly reliable figures exist regarding pet owning in India before 2006. The organisers of the IIPTF fair say that the pet population then was around 7 million, rising to 10 million five years later. The growing interest among the Indian population for keeping pets is best illustrated by the fact that around 600 000 pets are adopted every year. Euromonitor International has even described India as the "fastest growing global pet market". It is also clear that the rising pet ownership rates are driving demand for pet food, health products and pet accessories, making this fertile ground for an increase in trade and industry.
Market with potential
The Indian pet supplies market is estimated to be worth approximately 850 mio US dollars by industry experts. They expect it to register strong double-digit retail value growth in the coming years. Rising disposable income is a huge contributory factor to the growth of the pet product industry in India, with the annual disposable income of Indians reaching 1.576 billion dollars in 2012. Products catering to the health and wellness needs of pets have emerged and been well received, with pet care registering approximate growth of 24 per cent in 2012.The Indian pet supplies market has gone down the same path in recent years as other markets during their development phase. Pet food in India has been subject to increasing specialisation and premium food brands are gaining popularity in urban areas. Owing to the general wave of sensitisation to pets in the country, more Indian consumers have come to humanise their pets, and pet owners do not mind spending on items that they perceive as necessary or beneficial for their pets, be these pet food, treats, toys, medicines, resort stays or airline tickets.
Like so many other sectors of the Indian economy, the pet supplies trade is very traditional. Small shops on the margins of cities and in smaller villages constitute the main distribution channel for the regional population. Classic supermarkets are also among the principal suppliers of pet food, primarily stocking products from the big Mars and Nestlé brands.