According to the American Pet Product Association (APPA), 45 million U.S. households now provide a home to the more than 77.5 million registered dogs in the U.S.
And these millions of dogs represent a burgeoning industry. From dog walkers to professional poop scoopers, mobile groomers to at-home pet sitters – the dog business is booming. In fact APPA spending statistics show that in 2010, owners will spend a combined $47.7 billion on their pets.
And what do owners spend most of their money on? Not veterinary bills, but FOOD!
This year, Americans are predicted to spend almost twice as much on food for their pets in 2010 as they do on vet bills! So it’s no wonder that many entrepreneurs are turning their passion for their furry friends into “dog bakery” or “pet bakery” business opportunities.
The Demand for Healthy Dog Treats
Driven by a spate of mass-produced commercial dog food recalls together with a general appreciation of the health and wellness benefits of a healthier diet for our pets, the consumer demand for natural or organic dog food products is experiencing a significant uptick.
And market data testifies to the fact:
“In early 2009 …62 percent of dog owners… purchased natural/organic pet products in the last three months …moreover, nearly half of pet owners would buy more natural/organic pet products if they were more widely available and almost two-thirds would do so if they were more affordable.” (Natural, Organic and Eco-Friendly Pet Products in the U.S. , MarketResearch.com)
You only need to look in the aisles of independent pet stores to see that more and more entrepreneurs are capitalizing on this opportunity by producing and selling home-baked, healthy, and organic high-unit value dog treats and biscuits (oftentimes from their own recipes or drawn from the hundreds of recipes available online).
So if you are thinking of starting a doggy bakery (organic, whole food or otherwise), here are some tips to get you started and navigate the laws that govern the pet food production business.
Observe the Proper Steps to Starting a Business
If you are a first-time business owner or entrepreneur, or even if you have some experience under your belt, these 10 Steps to Starting a Business from Business.gov will guide you through the process involved in making key business planning and financial decisions about starting a business.
Want to Operate your Business from your Home?
One of the first decisions you will need to make about starting your venture is choosing your business location. Starting a business out of your home is an increasingly popular and relatively low-risk option for entrepreneurs. However it does bring with it several regulatory obligations – especially if you intend to produce commercial food products in your home. Read “Starting a Home-Based Food Production Business: Making Your Culinary Hobby Your Job” to learn more about the rules and regulations that govern home-based catering or food production businesses.
Making those Treats – Food Preparation Options for Home-Based Business
If you intend to commercially produce food from your home whether for animal or human consumption, you have several options when it comes to the food preparation. Check out this quick guide – “Food Preparation Options for Home-Based Food Businesses” – to help you navigate the laws on commercial kitchens, co-packing arrangements, and home kitchen conversions.
Keeping those Treats Safe! Understand the Laws that Govern Pet Food Production
Although there is no requirement that pet food products need pre-market approval by the FDA, the agency, via the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA), does require that pet foods, like human foods, be safe to eat, produced under sanitary conditions, contain no harmful substances, and be truthfully labeled. For more information about pet food regulation and marketing, visit the FDA’s Pet Food page and the Animal and Veterinary page for additional information.
You should also check with your county’s Public Health Department for more information about proper business practices.
Want to Produce and Market Pet Treats Organically?
Organic food production is a heavily regulated industry – and the same laws that apply for human consumption apply to pets too.
To be truly organic in the production and retailing of pet food, you must be certified by the USDA, which requires compliance with production handling standards, labeling laws, and so on. Read “Producing and Selling Organic Food Products – A Five Step Regulatory Primer” to understand what a “certified organic” food product is and how you can get certified.
- American Pet Products Association – A non-profit trade association serving the interests of the pet products industry.
- Tips for Starting a Food Service Production Business – Useful tips and resources that can help entrepreneurs start, operate and grow their food service businesses, including choosing a location, hiring and managing employees, and marketing your product.
- This Home-Based Business Guide from Business.gov can help you assess your readiness to start and grow a business from home.
- Shipping Food Products Across State Boundaries -If you produce a food product that is shipped across state boundaries then the FDA and Department of Agriculture both provide compliance guidelines.
- Starting and Growing an Online Business: An Entrepreneur’s Checklist
- How to Start a Retail Business: A Step-by-Step Guide