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Finding the right food for our furry friends isn’t easy. Most of what’s on offer is packed with preservatives, highly processed and leaves a much larger carbon footprint than you might think.
Dogs and cats alone consume 20% of the world’s meat and fish, which represents an entirely overlooked opportunity in pet care and climate conservation – one that pet food brand Percuro is taking full advantage of. Made with insect protein – which is both light on water, energy and land and nutritious for pets – Percuro’s food is shaking up the pet care industry for the benefit of our furry friends, and the planet.
We sat down with co-founder Brett Vye to ask some tough questions about the state of environmental and pet health.
We often think about our own carbon footprint, but not that of our pets! How much of an impact does pet care have on the environment?
The biggest environmental impact associated with our pet companions comes from producing meat-based pet food, which uses land, water and energy resources to produce, and is therefore a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions. A recent study revealed that pet dogs environmental impact is around 7% of the annual climate change impact of an average EU citizen. A UCLA geography professor conducted further research on the environmental impact of America’s pets, and found that dogs and cats in US households create about 64 million tons of carbon dioxide and methane annually, which is the equivalent of the annual climate impact of 13.6 million cars.
When did you first recognize the potential of insect protein?
Our founder and CISO Denise Saber spent more than half of her life in the city of London working with family offices and institutional investors around their sustainability agenda. It was very evident to her that capital deployment was becoming more centred around the environmental, social and governance agenda across all asset classes…including pet food.
As it stands, food production systems are outdated and unsustainable given the projections for population growth. Investors and consumers are looking for sustainable alternative protein sources that don’t impact the environment in the way that mainstream agriculture does. Percuro was born out of our desire to produce a food source that pets could thrive on – one that was light on natural resources and would alleviate pressures on the planet.
How does using insect protein contribute to a smaller carbon footprint?
Producing 1kg of edible insect protein uses only a fraction of the land, water and greenhouse emissions that 1kg of beef protein requires. Insects like our Black Soldier Fly are also great up-cyclers and eat food-by-products from the human food production stream that would otherwise be destined for landfill.
In addition to their environmental benefits, how do Percuro products outperform what’s currently on the market for pet health?
Percuro’s number one priority is the health of the pet and our formulas are developed to do this much better than what’s currently on the market. Our product is completely hypoallergenic because in combination with our novel insect protein, we have added potato, naked oats and peas instead of common allergens like corn, soy and wheat which you find in other pet food products. We have also included great plant-based sources of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids and prebiotics in our recipes to promote skin and tummy health, plus a unique Nature Calm Complex with camomile and hemp seed oil to support dogs with common worries like separation anxiety.
Does your commitment to sustainability extend throughout your supply chain too? What do you do to ensure your products are planet-friendly inside and out?
We have made sure that all our ingredients are sourced close to our manufacturing site in order to minimize the carbon footprint of our logistics. Over 95% of our ingredients come from the EU, allowing us to keep production as close to home as we can.
Who do you consider to be your primary competitors in this market and what is the plan to maintain competitive advantage?
There are other insect-based pet foods out there, but we’ll be able to maintain our competitive advantage by continuing to innovate within the white spaces of sustainable pet food thanks to our strong category and nutritional knowledge. We will also continue to develop our technology to maintain its superior taste, which today has a 92% win over our leading competitor. The outlook is strong so far; our month on month sales growth is sitting at over +135%*.
How will the funds raised from this round help you grow the business?
The funds will allow us to accelerate our business with a focus on brand-building through digital marketing (40%), retailer brand-building investments (30%), innovation in product development and the launch of our new treats and plant dog range (20%) and expansion into Asian markets (10%).
What was the key to staying agile during covid as a young business?
We have only ever operated in Covid conditions so far! It’s important to stay focused on your goals, and communicate with your team. We continue to learn from each other’s mistakes and stand together when times get tough. And of course, don’t forget to have ‘fun’.
What skill do you think has made you a better entrepreneur over the years?
What’s one thing that gives you joy outside of work?
Spending time with my pets and making sure we do everything we can to protect our planet.
To find out more about Percuro, and for the opportunity to invest, visit the pitch now.
*April vs. March 2021