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Should I Start a Pet Treat Business?

If you are considering whether you should start a pet treat business, begin by researching your audience. The UK are amongst the biggest animal lovers in the world — with 50% of UK adults owning a pet. According to the latest PDSA Animal Wellbeing Report , that 50% is broken down into 26% of UK adults who own a dog and 24% who own a cat.

In 2019 the UK spent almost £7 million on pets . With half of the population owning either a cat or a dog — or both — it is a great time to start a pet treat business.

Keep It Simple

As with any business, when you first start a pet treat business it is a good idea to keep things simple. Focus on one or two signature products and concentrate on getting those perfect. You can always branch out when you find your feet.

A good place to start is with the two most popular types of dog treats — the biscuit treat and the chew. According to the PDSA Animal Wellbeing Report , 77% of dog owners feed their dogs biscuit treats and 63% feed them dental chew treats. But don’t forget cats, 54% of cats are fed commercial cat treats so it’s worth taking a look at how you can incorporate these into your business plan.

Position Your Pet Treats

Consider whether there’s a gap in the market and where you see your pet treats sitting within it. Do you want to be a gourmet pet treat brand or focus on the health food market? Both are viable options, pet owners love to indulge their pets but they are also increasingly aware of the health and dietary requirements of their animals. Take a look at some popular brands in different markets and consider your options carefully.

Rules and Regulations

Similarly to human food manufacturing, animal feed production is subject to many rules and regulations. Before you start a pet treat business, you must contact your local Trading Standards for advice, since you must be approved by your local authority before you begin operating. You can find application forms on your local authority’s animal health website.

You must also consider whether you will be using Products of Animal Origin (POAO). POAO products contain meat, fish, eggs, honey and dairy. If you aren’t going to use products of animal origin in your pet treats, you can start production as soon as you are registered, and before a visit from a Trading Standards Officer. However, if you are using products of animal origin in your pet food, production must not start until you have received your approval from the APHA (Animal and Plant Health Agency).

You can also find all of the key legislation and regulations on the Food Standards Agency website.

Consider Your Branding

When you’ve done your research and chosen your niche, think about how you’ll fit into that niche but also stand out from the crowd. For example, if you’ve chosen to create a delicious gourmet pet treat brand, make sure you narrow your research down to find out what is expected of a gourmet pet treat. Take a look at their branding and how you can make yours stand out while retaining the quality and high-end look.

When you consider the naming of your pet treat business, look at your audience and think about how they will view your products. Whether you want to appear slick and professional or familiar and homely. Many start-ups have used the name of their pets or a fun animal pun while others have utilised words like “advanced” and “nutrition” in their brand name. Whatever you choose, be sure that it reflects your products.

Your packaging can turn into one of the biggest expenses when you start a pet treat business. However, alongside the ingredients, it is one of the most important aspects to consider. Your audience needs to feel confident in your product. Research your options, including recyclable and biodegradable packaging. The good news is that there are lots of packaging manufacturers out there and prices are increasingly competitive.

There are some requirements when it comes to labelling your product so make sure you include all of the necessary information. You can find all you need to know about labelling on the Pet Food Manufacturing Association (PFMA) website .

Market Your Pet Treat Business

Once your pet treat business is registered and approved, it’s time to start getting your name out there. There are many ways to do this. You can begin with your website and social media. If you can, include this in your budget and have a professional company website created that details all of the information your customers need to know about your business.

The taste test is important too when it comes to pet treats — animals won’t mind what the packaging, branding or website look like! Talk to local businesses such as pet shops, grooming salons and vet surgeries and ask whether they can pop your treats alongside some business cards by their till or on reception for customers’ pets to try.

Social media is an effective way to market a business but when it comes to anything pet-related, it becomes even more effective. People love seeing images of animals looking cute — Cats of Instagram has around 10 million followers. Sharing great content is an easy way to escalate your following and build a relationship with your audience. The bigger your audience, the more potential customers you will reach with your posts.

Your posts should be broken into different types of content — the cute pet content and the promotional content. A great use of social media is the “giveaway”. Encourage people to like and share your posts or follow your account and they could be in with a chance of winning a hamper of goodies. This will boost your following and get you new customers.

Are you ready to start a pet treat business? Mint Formations can help you form your limited company or self-employed business and remove the stress that can often come with starting a business. We’ll secure your brand name and get your company registered fast so that you can start doing what you love!

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