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Petaluma pitches vegan dog food

Two bags of Petaluma vegan dog food.

Photo: Courtesy of Petaluma

Petaluma, a DTC plant-based pet food startup, is introducing a product formulated for aging dogs, co-founder Garrett Wymore tells Axios.

Why it matters: The product exemplifies the push to convince pet owners to switch their dogs to a more sustainable vegan diet.

Details: The company, based in Oakland, California, was co-founded in 2019 by Wymore and Caroline Buck. In 2021, it introduced a sweet potato-flavored food for adult dogs, Wymore says.

  • Since then it has introduced a peanut butter flavor as well as dehydrated chews.
  • The senior formula, with fewer calories and anti-inflammatory benefits, is the latest addition, he says.
  • Its business is about 95% DTC and it intends to focus on growing via that channel, though Petaluma is in talks with pet specialty retailers, he adds.

By the numbers: Petaluma expects a $1 million revenue run rate by the end of the year, Wymore says.

  • So far it's raised some $500,000, an investment led by Leap Venture Studio, a partnership between Mars Petcare, Michelson Found Animals and R/GA Ventures.
  • While it does not have an active fundraising process underway given the difficult environment, it can raise extensions on an as-need basis, he says.

(Major) flashback: When dogs evolved from wolves into domesticated pets, they also switched from largely meat-based to starch-rich diets due to their close interactions with humans.

  • Researchers have even found that dogs can live healthier lives by eating a vegan diet.

The big picture: A number of trends point to growth for the vegan dog food category, including increasing pet ownership, humanization of pets, and a focus on sustainability, among others.

  • "'Ethical' products grew 48% to $11.7 million, while 'cruelty-free' products increased by 10% to account for $18 million in sales," according to NielsenIQ.

Zoom in: Vegan pet food remains a niche category but sits in a $95.6 billion pet food market globally.

State of play: Leading brands include Halo, V-dog, Benevo and Wild Earth, among others.

  • Also on that list are Wysong, Bramble, Lord Jameson, Pupums, Sooper Treats, Honest Paws, Addiction, Gather Endless Valley, PawCo, Hownd, Omni, The Pack, Ami’s and Benefit.
  • Bond Pet Foods raised a $17.5 million Series A round to produce pet food using fermented meat as an ingredient.
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