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Out of the doghouse and into the kitchen

Australia has one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world, according to the RSPCA, which brings with it a booming pet industry.

According to a report by Animal Medicines Australia (AMA), consumers spend $12.2 billion on their pets annually. The average dog-owning household spends an estimated $1975 a year on their dogs, with $622 of that spent on food.

Ben Whyatt, founder of dog treat business Doggylicious, is hoping to crack this growing but highly competitive market.

Whyatt has created a brand that puts dogs at the heart of the business, like so many Australian families put their pet at the heart of theirs.

“Doggylicious is 100 per cent owned and run by dogs,” Whyatt told Inside FMCG, explaining their central role in the business.

The brand started as a side hustle four years ago and has just recently hit the market with a direct-to-consumer offer and retailing on Amazon.

What makes Doggylicious quite different from other dog treats on the market, is that the cookies are made from human-grade ingredients, such as egg, honey and sunflower seeds, and are therefore safe for humans to eat.

With claims such as grain-free and gluten-free, and ingredients like hemp, probiotics and collagen, it’s clear that the cookies are taking inspriation from human food trends.

Whyatt said the days of consumers throwing cans of dog food into their shopping trolley without a second thought are a thing of the past.

Currently, the industry is self-regulated and manufacturers are under no obligation to recall products even in the case of a product harming or killing an animal, which has prompted consumers to make much more informed choices about what they are feeding their pets.

“It’s thinking about what consumers are actually wanting to feed their dogs, who have now become part of the family and are probably better fed than some humans,” Whyatt said.

“I wanted to use ingredients that consumers know are safe, with more up-to-date trends.”

Whyatt sees Amazon as a key platform in getting the business off the ground and has big plans to grow the business via the e-commerce giant.

“Amazon is a huge platform that I think has been untapped by the Australian retail market,” he said. “Over the last 12 months I’ve really been learning about how Amazon works.”

“I want to be the number one dog treat brand on Amazon.”

The range comes in five varities, each with a different health claim from calming cookies to cookies infused with collagen to help support healthy hips, joints and coat.

Whyatt also wants to use the opportunity to give something back, and created the Rainbow cookie for this purpose.

“The ethos behind the brand is that dogs see, hear and sense everything. I want this brand to be like a voice for dogs to support people who are struggling. The one product that we’ve done this with so far is the Rainbow cookie, which will see 5 per cent of profits go to charities that support LGBT adoption.”

Whyatt is now in the process of looking for a distributor and has his sights set on introducing doggy baking mixes, doggy advent calendars and a doggie birthday box to the portfolio in the near future.

“My passion is to help make Australia one of the best food and beverage industries in the world, and this is just me putting my little dent on that movement.”

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