UK-based Omni has secured £1.1 ($1.5) million in its first funding round. ProVeg International, Trellis Road, Purple Orange Ventures and Kale United all participated. Funds have been raised to support new product line developments, including treats that treat specific health conditions.
Other investors include angel financier Vera Baker, as part of the Atomico Angel Programme and foodtech investment platform FoodHack. Veterinarian Dr Guy Sandelowsky and Shiv Sivakumar founded Omni in 2020 as a response to nutritionally poor conventional pet food brands.
Dog food that saves the planet
After witnessing first-hand the side effects of poor quality pet food, Sandelowsky partnered with Sivakumar, an investment banker whose family had raised plant-based pets. The latter comes from a background of raising healthy plant-based dogs. Together, they launched Omni, which joined the ProVeg Incubator accelerator programme in 2021. “Plant-based alternatives are transforming the food industry,” says Albrecht Wolfmeyer, head of the ProVeg accelerator which helped incubate Omni. “Now the pet food industry is ripe for change. Omni is part of a new generation of impact-driven pet food companies focusing on sustainability and health.“
Founded during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, Omni creates balanced 100 percent plant-based food for dogs. It has a 30 percent protein base, with healthy pulses, vegetables and fruits added for a comprehensive profile. Following investment, new product lines will continue with similar focusses, adding in natural remedies for common ailments. Pets with poor nutrition can host a range experience anxiety, skin conditions and joint problems.
Designed to be good for dogs specifically, Omni claims to similarly benefit the environment. Up to one quarter of factory farming impact is currently attributed to pet food supply chains. Removing the need for animal products will relieve environmental pressure. Omni claims its product uses 61 percent less water, 92 percent less land and emits up to 85 percent less greenhouse gas emissions than traditional equivalent pet food.
A fast-growing market
Since a soft launch last year, Omni has reported a 55 percent average monthly growth rate. This corresponds to market predictions that the vegan dog food sector could reach a $15 billion value by 2028. “More and more pet owners are going vegan, vegetarian or flexitarian, and many are taking their pets with them!” Sandelowsky said in a press statement. “This market is already worth many billions of dollars a year worldwide and it will only get bigger – perhaps much, much bigger.”
Anna Ottoson, investor and co-founder at Trellis Road VC, underlined the financial and impact viability of Omni’s mission. “We have no doubt that a growing group of pet owners eating a plant-based diet themselves will make the shift to feed their pets a plant-based diet as well. However, pet health is obviously key for this transition and that was one of the things we really liked with Omni, being founded by a vet and with a very strong focus on never compromising with the dogs’ nutritional needs.”
Alongside Omni are a number of companies looking to take a bite out of the animal-free pet food market. Last year, The Pack closed a successful pre-seed round that saw celebrity chefs, influencers and restaurateurs all investing. The total amount raised was not disclosed but a distribution network was quickly realised. Specialist online retailers joined the company’s own e-commerce platform to offer the products. The wet food formulations include seaweed, hemp, vegetables and b vitamin-rich brewer’s yeast.
Last December, popular energy bar brand Clif Bar, revealed a surprising move into pet snacks. Unveiling its plant-based jerky, the company made a connection between healthy owners, hiking dogs and a need for everybody to refuel. Clif Pet is slated for launch in early 2022. Three products have been developed, bringing fibrous vegetables and heart-healthy fruits together. Combinations include sweet potato and blueberry.
All images courtesy of Omni.