Press release: L Catterton
L Catterton, a leading global consumer-focused investment firm, today announced that it has invested in Partner Pet, the top domestic premium freeze-dried pet food company in China. The investment, coupled with L Catterton’s expertise in the pet food sector, will help Partner Pet to cement its leading position in the fastest-growing segments of the country’s pet food market. This also marks another step forward as L Catterton continues to play out its broad pet food strategy in China.
Underpinned by macrotrends such as rising disposable incomes and the increasing humanization of pets, China’s pet food market is expanding exponentially, with the premium and superpremium price segments driving most of the growth. Likewise, the freeze-dried, kibble+ and wet food format segments are growing the most rapidly and are together expected to account for around half the market by 2025, up from approximately one-quarter in 2020 and less than one-sixth in 2018.
Capturing the surge in demand for such products, Partner Pet’s sales have risen twelvefold over the past three years as the company built on its lead in the freeze-dried segment to also gain pole position in the kibble+ segment. Its range of products in these segments are known for their palatability and balanced nutritional profiles, and have the best conversion and repurchase rates among all local players in the space. Differentiating the company from its competitors, Partner Pet is also recognized as the pioneer and a specialist of biologically-appropriate raw food offerings in the country’s pet food market. The company has begun to enter the wet food segment as well.
Since its founding in 2016, Partner Pet has established an extensive presence spanning offline and online channels in China. Its products are sold in around 20,000 stores across the country and outperform other insurgent domestic brands in such stores. The company has a burgeoning direct-to-consumer business as well, especially via its Tmall flagship store, and is also active on other e-commerce platforms like JD.com, Taobao and TikTok.
“China’s pet food market has demonstrated resilient growth over the past few years and its expansion is expected to continue unabated, as consumers increasingly seek nutritious food for their animal companions regardless of economic oscillations,” commented Scott Chen, a managing partner in the Asia fund of L Catterton. “Equipped with prolific new product development capabilities, Partner Pet has attracted consumers with its high-quality offerings and its ascent reflects its ability to harvest true demand and win customer loyalty. We are excited to start working with its management team to further scale up its business.”
“More and more people are discovering the joys of having animal friends and are building stronger bonds with their pets. We therefore seek to help them maximize the quality and length of their lives together by providing them with healthy food that suit pets’ natural diets. L Catterton’s track record of creating value in the pet food space is second to none and we believe we can leverage its proven operating capabilities to accomplish our mission. We look forward to benefitting from its brand building, distribution, and supply chain optimization expertise. L Catterton has significant experience building brands globally in the pet food space. Current and past investments include Butternut Box, Canidae, Inspired Pet Nutrition, Instinct, JustFoodForDogs, Lily’s Kitchen, Old Mother Hubbard, Petlove, Pure & Natural and Rachael Ray Nutrish,” added Partner Pet founder and CEO Zhi Qiao.