Betagro crafts niche in premium pet food

The completion of a 1.2-billion- baht pet food plant will enable Betagro Group subsidiary Pet Focus Co to capture a larger share of the premium pet food and pet treat market across Asia, accord- ing to Vasit Taepaisitphongse, CEO of Betagro Group.

The grand opening of Pet Focus Co was presided over by (2nd left) Panu Yamsri, Lopburi governor, (3rd left) Dr Yukol Limlamthong, former deputy prime minister and minister of Agriculture
and Cooperatives, (4th left) Dr Chaivat Taepaisitphongse, Betagro chairman, (5th left) Vanus Taepaisitphongse, president (right), Vasit Taepaisitphongse, CEO, and (left) Chayanon Kittayachaweng, COO.

Pet Focus targets becoming Thailand’s 3rd largest dry pet food player by 2018 with a 10% market share, up from its cur- rent 5%.

At present, the plant produces around 4,000 tonnes/month mainly for the Thai market with 30% exported to Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan, Vietnam, Myanmar and the Philippines.

Pet Focus projects double-digit growth via development of innovative products, noted Mr Vasit.

Full capacity of 11,000 tonnes/month will be reached sometime between 2018 and 2019. More production lines are to be added later.

Pet Focus, which has achieved annual growth of 20% in the domestic market in recent years, expects 60% sales growth by the end of 2017. This will be achieved by adding 1,000 new sales channels at pet shops, vet clinics, modern trade and pet farms across the country, up from 2,000 in 2016.

Demand for pet food in the local market is estimated at 14,800 tonnes/month and export volume is around 25,000 tonnes/ month. The market value of pet food in Thailand is estimated at 25 billion baht/ year, with dog food 70% and the rest cat food.

The first phase consists of two single- screw extruders to produce dry kibble and semi-moist

Twin-screw extruders and single-screw extruder (below)

food and a twin-screw extruder to produce pet treats. It is using both double-pass driers and a vertical drier for performance comparison.

Raw ingredients and preparations are carried out in the milling tower. After that, the prepared ingredients are deliv- ered to the “high care” tower where they are are processed and packed.

The high care tower is equipped with extruders, driers, shifters, coaters, cool- ers, and machines for kibble blending and packing.

The most advanced machinery was chosen because Pet Focus knows that pet owners want perfect kibble quality and nutrition for their pets. Nowadays, pet owners expect pet food to be as safe and hygienic as human food, he added.

The packing room maintains positive pressure and uses HEPA filters to trap airborne mold spores, bacteria and other impurities to maximize shelf life and eliminate food safety risks.

Chayanon Kittayachaweng, executive vice president and chief operating officer – agro business, added that the new plant has given Betagro an edge over competi- tors in filling big volume orders from off- shore and key account customers.

Positive pressure packing room with metal detectors in all packing lines to detect tramp metal

Production know-how and state-of-the- art machinery differentiates Betagro from competitors while adding capabilities for developing more innovative products.

Apart from developing traditional dis- tribution channels, the company is communicating with customers on social media via its own Pet Enjoy smartphone app.

Initial capacity is 4,000 tons per month of dry pet food items and snacks for dogs and cats under numerous brands to serve different market segments. For example, Perfecta is positioned for the premium segment, Dog’n joy and Cat’n joy are standard quality, and Bingo Star is aimed at the mass market.

Perfecta is positioned for the premium segment due to its functional character- istics. The diets are formulated for pets with special requirements such as vege- tarian formulas for animals with protein allergies and skin diseases. It also offers low-calorie diets for overweight pets.

It is working with the faculty of Veterinary Science at Kasetsart University to develop renal diets that should be ready by 2018, said Mr Chayanon.

Besides domestic sales and exports to Europe, Japan and neighboring coun- tries, Pet Focus offers toll services for domestic and offshore customers.

Its certifications include BRC (a European food safety standard), GMP, HACCP, ISO9001: 2015, ISO14001: 2015 and OHSAS18001: 2007. It is one of four pet food manufacturers to have been awarded the Thailand Trust Mark from the Department of International Trade Promotion under the Ministry of Commerce.

Also, the Group is among the very first companies to be certified with Sushi Berish, a designation that enables Pet Focus to penetrate Muslim markets, especially Indonesia.