SHANGHAI — On Feb. 14, L Catterton, a consumer-focused investment firm, announced an investment in Chinese freeze-dried pet food company Partner Pet. According to L Catterton, the investment will enable Partner Pet to further its position as a leader in the Chinese pet food market.

With disposable income rising and the humanization of pets increasing, the Chinese pet food market continues to expand exponentially, according to L Catterton. In fact, China remains one of the top exports markets for American pet food producers. Pet food exports from the United States to China totaled more than $304 million from January to November 2022, up nearly 200% year-over-year, according to China’s General Administration of Customs (GACC). According to Pet Food Institute’s Market Tracker, the Chinese pet food market has a CAGR of 10.3% for the next four years.

This growth is driven by the premium and super premium nutrition segments. According to L Catterton, freeze-dried, “kibble plus” and wet food formats are experiencing the most rapid growth and are expected to account for about half the overall pet food market by 2025.

“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,” said Scott Chen, managing partner in the Asia fund of L Catterton.

With this in mind, L Catterton has invested in Partner Pet.

Founded in 2016, Partner Pet specializes in freeze-dried and the kibble plus pet food sector. The company is recognized as a pioneer in biologically-appropriate raw pet food within the Chinese market. Partner Pet currently has an extensive presence in brick-and-mortar retail with products sold in about 20,000 stores throughout China, as well as a large e-commerce presence, offering its products directly to consumers.

“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,” Chen said. “We are excited to start working with its management team to further scale up its business.”

According to L Catterton, Partner Pet’s sales have increased 12-fold over the past three years. The company has relied on its high position in the freeze-dried space to also enter the kibble plus and wet pet nutrition segments.

“More and more people are discovering the joys of having animal friends and are building stronger bonds with their pets,” said Zhi Qiao, founder and chief executive officer, Partner Pet. “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,” Qiao added. “We look forward to benefitting from its brand building, distribution and supply chain optimization expertise.”

This investment in Partner Pet is just one of the many investments L Catterton has made in the pet food space. So far, the firm has invested in Butternut Box, Canidae, Inspired Pet Nutrition, Instinct, JustFoodForDogs, Lily’s Kitchen, Old Mother Hubbard, Petlove, Rachael Ray Nourish and many others. In February 2022, it made its first foray into the Chinese pet food market, investing in Enova Pet Products.

Read more global pet food and treat news from outside North America.