Nestlé’s Pet Food Empire

The global pet food market is a massive industry with annual revenues topping $50 billion. One of the leader’s in this industry is Purina Petcare, a subsidiary of Nestlé. Although it may bear its namesake Purina is well-know for other products outside of Purina ONE, Purina Dog Chow, and Purina Pro Plan including Friskies and Beneful.

Nestlé Purina Petcare came about in December 2001 due to the acquisition of Ralston Purina for $10.3 billion. At first the merger looked as if it would not go through as it would provide Nestlé with a whopping 45 percent share of the cat food market, however after selling the Meow Mix and Alley Cat brands the FTC approved. After this merger Purina Petcare grew rapidly as Nestlé began optimizing manufacturing processes and distribution networks. This merger proved to be hugely profitable for Nestlé as over the course of 2001-2005 its pet food sales went from accounting for just over one tenth of revenue to nearly a third. The following year Nestlé became the largest market share holder in the global pet food industry with an astounding 32 percent.

Following this great success Purina began to expand beyond just the pet food industry. It formed a pet insurance company, PurinaCare, in 2009 which was later acquired in 2013. Next, Purina entered the pet adoption space with the purchase of the well-known website Petfinder. Continuing on its string of successes Purina also opened the first U.S. “cat cafe” where patrons can eat and drink while being surrounded by cute, adoptable felines.

As the market space grew more competitive Purina did its best to set itself apart from the competition. It hopped on the popularity of gaming on Facebook and created Purina Pet Resort where animal lovers could create their own animal paradise. Next, in 2011 it began sponsoring the classic Westminster Dog Show which greatly increased their exposure. Then Nestlé combined the efforts of Purina and Jenny Craig to create “Project: Pet Slim Down” in 2012. This project was intended to help people and their animals lose weight together. Another successful marketing ploy came about in late 2013 with the addition of internet sensation Grumpy Cat as a spokesman for Friskies.

As of 2012 the company enjoyed a 23.1 percent share of the pet food market, just behind its biggest competitor, Mars, at 23.4 percent. However Purina has remained the second most profitable subsidiary of Nestlé just behind pharmaceuticals and has won many accolades throughout its existence. It was given the Malcolm Bridge National Quality Award and also named as one of the 11 most sustainable companies in Two Tomorrow’s 2011 ranking. The company excels in reducing manufacturing waste and has been lauded for its use of solar panels in providing electricity for its offices.

For more information on the timeline and history of Purina, check out the Purina News Center.