Goa’s pioneering manufacturer of raw food for dogs

By RAHUL CHANDAWARKAR

It is not often that a Goan enterprise can lay claim to being a pioneer in a particular manufacturing process. BARF India, the Margao based company, arguably the first Indian enterprise manufacturing raw food for dogs is one such business entity.

BARF which is an acronym for ‘basic ancestral raw food’ is the brainchild of Goan entrepreneur Cosme Brian Fernandes (40) and is making rapid strides ever since they went commercial in 2016.

Brian, owner of multiple dogs used to often wonder why his dogs suffered from a variety of health issues despite being fed what he perceived was good food. However, a chance meeting with a South African farmer changed his entire thought process.

The South African farmer introduced Brian to the concept of BARF. The farmer was of the firm opinion that dogs originated from the wolf species and wild dogs and wolves in the wild thrived on a diet of raw meat, fruits and vegetables. The farmer fed his dogs a combination of raw meat, vegetables and fruits and the dogs without exception were hale and hearty. This is how the seeds of the BARF product were sown in Brian’s mind.

On his return to India, Brian began manufacturing small quantities of raw food for his Mastiff dogs on his Sanguem farm. Within a few weeks, Brian began seeing a positive difference in his pets. Their health worries disappeared and they began to prosper. This inspired him to set up a formal manufacturing facility on the same farm in 2015, which is today the first BARF India food factory.

A year later in 2016, forming a team with close associates, Steve Fernandes, BARF’s director of marketing and Sagar Badakere, BARF’s director of sales, Brian launched the BARF product commercially for the benefit of pet owners in Goa and cities across India.

The product today is manufactured in variants of fish, lamb, chicken, turkey and duck meat mixed with small quantities of fruits, vegetables and select herbs. The finished product is stored in sausage rolls of 500 gms and 1 kg and costs between `350-`800 per kg and is available online and supplied via the cold chain. BARF also manufactures specialized weight loss and joint-pro diets and makes custom-made diets for dogs having special dietary needs. The BARF diet is bereft of chemical preservatives, fragrances, grains, flavouring agents and colourants and is completely grain-free.

Pet owners have to book the products online on the BARF website (www.barfindia.com) and get door delivery of the product via the cold chain. The product needs to be stored in the freezer, thawed and served to the pets in the raw state without any additives whatsoever.

Raw food or BARF has its backers in internationally reputed veterinary doctors, the American Dr Karen Becker being one of them (see YouTube link https://youtu.be/G3wLTlqnMMg).

In the YouTube video, Dr Becker traces the lineage of our everyday dogs to the wolf family. According to her, wolves and dogs in the wild have been used to eating raw meat, fruits and herbs which is easily available to them. According to Becker, packaged dog food (or kibble food) which uses chemicals and inorganic additives has gained prominence in the last 50-60 years because it is cheap and easy to use. However, she is of the firm belief, that packaged food is detrimental to the health of dogs and cats in the long-run due to its inorganic nature. She therefore, backs raw food as the best diet for both domesticated dogs and cats.

Encouraged by the support of people like Dr Becker and others, Brian and team have intensified BARF India’s efforts in recent months. Having consolidated their local Goan base purely on basis of word of mouth publicity, the company has spread its wings to other Indian cities like Bengaluru, Pune, Mumbai, Chennai and the Delhi NCR region.

With an increasing demand, BARF India, who has a turnover of `1.5 crores currently plans to set up manufacturing units in Bellary and Hospet in neighbouring Karnataka state.

The ambitious BARF team is also eyeing the untapped potential in off-shore markets like the Middle-East and Sri Lanka.

“We are in talks to launch our products in Dubai and Sri Lanka and are aiming at garnering 10 per cent revenue share in the next three years from these two markets, which is worth USD 120 million,” Brian told Business Goa.

BARF India is also keen to set up a manufacturing unit in Portugal to cater to the European and the US markets

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