You’ve probably heard of HelloFresh-style businesses where you are given tailored ingredients for your meals. Well now the concept has come, literally, to dog food.
Butternut Box is a London startup now bringing tailored, delivered meals to British dogs. It’s aiming at dog owners who want high-quality ingredients put into meals for their precious pooches.
The company is led by Goldman Sachs alumni Kevin Glynn and David Nolan (aged 27 and 30 respectively), and is now announcing a £1 million Seed round of investment from a leading London early stage investor, Passion Capital.
Estimates for dog and cat food snacks in the UK is currently £3.1 billion per annum, but only a tiny minority of these products are cooked fresh. Plus, only two companies dominate an estimated 77% of the UK pet food market.
However, they are not alone, competing with Lily’s Kitchen, Tails.com and Natural Instinct for this lucrative new market.
That said, they say that unlike other brands, their proprietary algorithm identifies how many kcals each individual dog needs on a daily basis. They then remove the hassle by pre-portioning this kcal amount into daily servings. They even taste test all their food – with humans.
Glynn says “Pet owners are left choosing their dog food in an aisle cluttered with washing powder and bin bags and dominated by a few unhealthy choices. Butternut Box makes it easy and convenient to ensure dogs get the very best diet tailored for each individual.”
They appear to be pushing at an open door. Just as in humans, obesity and related issues are said to be costing British dog owners over £200 million in vet’s fees. Overfeeding, and unhealthy food is leading to obesity. But Butternut Box’s algorithms might be one answer. Nolan says: “We know their age, weight, breed, activity levels and body condition. With this information, we can develop meals that meet the dog’s specific needs.” Meet the Quantified Dog.
Why create this tailored approach? Well, a scientific study found that dogs who were fed a natural, home-made diet had a longer life capacity than those dogs who were fed industrial canned products. The difference which is mentioned in the study between those two diets is three years, a long time in dog years.
After starting out in a family kitchen, with daily early morning trips to London’s Smithfield meat market, Butternut Box is now based in a kitchen in West London and sources all its meat direct in Ireland and Britain. So far it’s cooked over 250,000 individual meals since it launched in April 2016.