A city university graduate and his friend have launched a new dog food brand - which they claim is "good enough for humans to eat".
Former Northumbria University psychology graduate Dan Eha, 25, and personal trainer and nutritionist, Mathew Cockcroft, 27, set up Pure Pet Food on a £21,000 budget of savings alongside a European Innovation Grant from the Government.
And the pair's quirky idea came to fruition in April in a bid to create a pet food revolution – launching a dog food range “fit for humans to eat”.
“When we looked around at the wet and dry dog food available, it made no sense that a highly-processed food, containing low quality ingredients was good enough,” said Eha.
“Why should our pets be exempt from getting a varied diet, made from quality ingredients, just like humans do?”
After university, Eha initially pursued a career in psychology having trained at St George’s Hospital in Morpeth.
However, after a holiday with Cockcroft, he decided a more entrepreneurial path was for him.
The pair started out cooking up chicken and duck recipes at the kitchen table using fresh and raw, human quality ingredients with a £300 dehydration machine they had saved up to buy.
Cockcroft added: “After initial research, we found more pet owners were feeding their dogs fresh produce.
“Our product takes away the need for extra freezer space for meat bought in bulk, health risks of chopping up animal carcasses in the kitchen and the time and costs involved.
“Most importantly, it allows owners to provide a low processed natural dog food with all the nutritional benefits of a raw diet.”
So far, the up-and-coming entrepreneurs have won £1,000 through Shell Livewire’s National Grand Ideas Award and have also been shortlisted in the Top 20 UK Businesses to Watch in 2013.
Along with a positive response both at home with UK retailers and online orders from Switzerland, the duo will now supply their first North East pet store next month. Independently-run Robinson’s pet store was founded in 1929 and will start stocking the Pure brand in July. Staff at the Grainger Market-based shop claim there is a growing demand for dog foods that more closely resemble the diet of their owners.
Nick Robinson of the store, said: “Owners are taking a real interest in what they feed their pets now and are actively looking for low-processed foods with higher quality ingredients, which makes Pure a great fit for those looking for a convenient alternative to raw or home-cooked meals for their dog.”
The entrepreneurs hope more independent stores will get behind their brand in the future.
“It’s incredibly important to us that we work with pet specialist stores like Robinson’s.
“The expertise and knowledge they provide to their customers is absolutely vital for a product like ours, you simply wouldn’t get that if our food was sat on a shelf in one of the bigger supermarkets,” said Cockcroft.
The duo hope to achieve a turnover of around £200,000 for their first year, but aim to be a global brand over the next five years.
Cockcroft said: “Working with independents like Robinson’s is key to our success as staff are keen to educate people on natural foods. We currently work from a Human Grade factory in West Yorkshire, but we will be looking to take on staff, possibly in the North East as the company grows.
“We are looking to expand with a new range of treats in the future, and we could also look at manufacturing a line of cat food. If you’re not sure if your dog will love Pure foods, we suggest you give them a try first yourself!”