It’s no secret that Goans have been pet-lovers for generations now. Dogs, cats and other pets have been part of lives of people, both in the villages and in the cities. And, therefore, in some ways, it doesn’t come as a surprise that a company like ‘BARF India’ emerged from Goa.
Brian Fernandes, managing director of BARF India, hails from Sanguem. Brian is a dog lover, as he says, “I own 105 dogs and they are all mastiffs.”
Interestingly, it was a farmer from South-Africa, who explained to Brian that a diet comprising of raw meat, vegetables and fruit helps dogs in staying totally fit, healthy and lean. That’s why this diet is named BARF Diet, as it stands for ‘Basic Ancestral Raw Food.’
To make raw diet for pets, BARF India uses a variety of raw meats like chicken, lamb, fish, turkey, some vegetables & fruits, and even herbs. Brian said, BARF is India’s first raw food manufacturing company for pets.”
He continued, “At times, pets are allergic to a certain kind of meat. Like a dog may be allergic to chicken, for instance. In such a case, we can provide them with food made of turkey, which will obviously be more expensive.”
But, why did Brian feel the need of a pet diet made up of entirely raw ingredients? He explained, “Almost 70 percent dogs have renal problems after 6-7 years of life. This is because their diet contains chemicals and preservatives, which aren’t good for them.”
He continued, “A lot of experts have analysed that dogs see a reduction in their pH levels, when fed raw diet. Lower pH levels prohibit growth of several kinds of dangerous bacteria in their digestion system.”
If chemicals and preservatives aren’t good in diet for dogs and cats, then cooked grains are no better. It’s often observed that people feed cooked food, typically rice with eggs, to their pets.
Brian said this is a really bad diet for pets. He elaborated, “Dogs and cats are carnivorous animals and they shouldn’t take cooked grains. Have you seen these animals having grains in the wild? We give them grains because grains are cheap.”
But then, in the wild, animals primarily rely on meat. So, why give them vegetables? Brian replied, “Vegetables are a source of fibre and anti-oxidants. But, vegetables don’t exceed more than 3 percent of diet in the case of our products.”
Speaking to Brian is almost like breaking a number of myths about dog food. He said he had long discussions with people to explain just the basics like how feeding vegetarian food isn’t good for pets and also how packaged food contains chemicals and preservatives, which can be damaging for the health of pets.
Brian continued, “One of the biggest marketing gimmicks we see is breed specific diet. That a certain diet only suits Labradors and another diet only suits German Shepherds. The diet depends upon what a dog needs and not the breed. For example, St Bernard and Huskies need high fat diet.”
BARF India can customise diet according to a dog’s needs. For example, Labradors tend to become over-weight. For such pets, the company has weight-loss diet. BARF India’s products have already made a mark in Goa and in metros.
Brian informed that he is selling his products not only in Goa, but also in Bengaluru, Mumbai, Pune, Chennai and Delhi-NCR region. The company has its own logistics network of cold chain and supply team, which ensures that it doesn’t have to rely on third-parties.
In food business, this is extremely critical because BARF diet has to be kept at minus 18 degree Celsius temperature. Fluctuations in temperature can ruin the product before it reaches a customer.
Brian said, “From the moment, you place an order at our website (www.barfindia.com), we take 72 hours to supply the package at your doorstep. Our ambition is to start supplying our products in 30 cities in India.”
As of now, BARF India has one plant in Sanguem, but the company is looking at places like Bellary and Hospet in Karnataka to have more manufacturing plants.
Apart from that, BARF India is also aggressively looking at exports. Brian said, “We are looking at countries in the Middle-East and Sri Lanka for exporting our products. Put together, the pet food market in these two regions should be worth around $120 million. We aim to achieve a market share of 10 percent in both these markets in 3 years.”