Starting a Pet Food Business

The rise in pet ownership in the past few years, and the willingness and education of owners to buy only the best for their furry friends, has created a lot of opportunity in the industry.


For just one example, the greater interest for healthier or luxury pet food options has helped this industry experience a major boom. For proof, just walk down the pet food aisle in your local supermarket – pet food packaging and presentation has improved to the point it can be difficult to distinguish.

So, if you want to become a part of this new trend, how do you get started in building your food business?



Step one is creating your idea – your unique selling point. It should be something you’re passionate about, and something that you have the expertise to create. Maybe, its part of the new specialty foods trend, and provides organic or hormone-free food.


The next step is market research – finding out if your product idea fits an established niche. Who is your target market? What does your ideal customer look like – both for pets and their owners. Typically, pet food products will fall into being upper-market, mid-market or mass-market, and this will change what clientele you aim for. Importantly, do animals enjoy and benefit from the food you have created?

The next step is confirming what sort of regulations and standards you will need to comply with. In Australia, these will vary from state to state. As your product will be consumed by animals, it is essential they are acceptable under all applicable standards.


Once you feel you have a good grasp on what your product is, how well it will work, and who it’s for, you’re ready to begin production. This second stage of a start-up food business can be a lot more challenging.


One of the first things you should consider is scalability. Is your recipe, and the ingredients and processes used, as easy to do at a large scale as in small batches? If not, your recipe, or the process you use, may need to be reviewed.


Part of this consideration, and a very important step in scaling up is getting the equipment you need. It’s never a good idea to wait to buy your equipment when your business is already succeeding. You need the best equipment from the start, to prevent costly failures and help you achieve the best products from the beginning. If you want to be a successful start-up in a competitive market, it’s important to make sure your equipment is up to the task. Great equipment can improve the quality and consistency of your product, as well as automating time-consuming and low-payoff processes.


If you feel like this will be far too much in terms of capital expenditure, your best option is hire. Pet food companies often need quite specialised equipment such as sausage fillers, mincers, bone cutters, dicers and more, many of which can help elevate your creation from something mediocre, into a polished final product.

However, this equipment can be expensive to buy initially, so hiring is a great way to make sure you get what you need without paying out a large lump sum when already working with a tight cashflow. Hire can also be a great option, if you want to try out equipment for a new R & D product range, or if you’re not sure how well you can fit the machine into your workflow. Simply try out the machinery, and purchase when you have more capital available and are sure it will work for you.


The final thing you should consider is the presentation of your product. Today’s successful pet food companies are upping their game and making sure their product has aesthetic shelf appeal to buyers, while still ensuring food safety. To stand out, you’ll need to do the same.


You may want to consider printed, or otherwise personalised packaging. You’ll need to make sure it is able to protect your pet food from contamination and spoiling. Here at Viking, we specialise in selling food packaging, and are currently working with companies in the pet food industry to supply creative new packaging solutions.


These are just a few of the many things you’ll need to consider when starting a pet food business. It may seem daunting, but the amount of opportunity for innovation in this industry makes it well worthwhile.


At Viking our motto is ‘equipping the food industry to grow’, so we’re always here to provide solutions to many of the challenges you face.