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HelloFresh launches pet food brand

Illustration of a bowl of pet food with a knife and fork on either side

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

HelloFresh, the prepared meal-kit company, launched a premium pet food brand, as it diversifies into a new category.

Why it matters: Startups that offer human-grade dog food have taken off, as pet parents are keen to treat their pets as family members, feeding them higher-quality food.

Driving the news: The brand, called The Pets Table, will offer human-grade, fresh and air-dried recipes for dogs.

  • The brand will leverage HelloFresh’s direct-to-consumer expertise — especially around subscriptions — as well as its technological infrastructure, and manufacturing and marketing capabilities, The Pets Table CEO Laurent Guillemain says.
  • The subscription model works well for pet food because it's a recurring, bulky purchase, he says.

How it works: Customers can pick from four plans, such as fresh, air-dried, mixed and half fresh, all tailored to meet the caloric needs of a customer's dog.

  • The company has partnered with veterinarians and nutritionists to develop the dog food, which is minimally processed, cooked in low heat, and uses human-grade quality ingredients.
  • Similar to HelloFresh's model, these dog meals are delivered to a customer's door.

What’s next: The company said it will focus on scaling operationally and getting feedback from customers in the beginning.

  • But in the future, it plans to look at other adjacent product lines such as treats, Guillemain says.

The big picture: Around 51% of pet owners say their pets are considered as a human member of their family, according to pollster Pew Research Center.

State of play: Pet care and nutrition has drawn lots of interest from investors due to this “humanization” of pets and the recurring nature (repeat purchases) of taking care of pets.

  • Maev, an Austin, Texas-based human grade raw dog food brand, raised $10 million in a Series A led by VMG Partners.
  • Bond Pet Foods, a Boulder, Colo.-based plant-based pet foods company, raised a $17.5 million Series A from a group of investors including Archer-Daniels-Midland Co.’s venture arm ADM Ventures, Cavallo Ventures and Genoa Ventures.
  • Bundle x Joy, a Glendale, Ariz.-based pet nutrition startup, raised $1 million in seed funding led by Leap Venture Studio with Mars Petcare Companion Fund and R/GA Ventures participating.

Yes, but: The fresh pet food industry in particular isn't without margin pressures — just ask FreshPet, whose activist investor Jana Partners is pushing for a sale.

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