Every week as I’m looking researching through death care articles looking for topics to write on for Funeral Director Daily I will come across an article from some United States newspaper announcing that the local funeral home has just added pet cremation services to its line of service offerings.
I’ve also seen, as this article from Business News Australia and a 2020 article from Funeral Director Daily point out, Australia’s largest funeral care provider, InvoCare, purchased two chains of pet crematories for the combined price of US $ 36.4 million. So, it is not hard to see that there are some in our profession that think this business extension can be profitable and lucrative.
What really grabbed my attention, however, was this recent article from the Minneapolis Star Tribune telling how hometown conglomerate General Mills is growing their pet food division by over 20% from 2019 to 2021. The article explains that in 2017 General Mills, the parent company of Wheaties, Cheerios, and Yoplait, purchased Blue Buffalo dog food for $8 billion — General Mills second largest acquisition in their history — ranking 2nd only to the purchase of Pillsbury in 2001.
One of the facts that caught my attention in the Star Tribune article is that there are “2.5 times as many pets as children in the United States.” said Bethany Quam, president of General Mill’s pet division, “It’s wild, and it has really changed how people view pets. It continues to fuel what we call humanization — if you believe they’re a family member, then you want to feed them and treat them like humans.”
And John Boylan, and equities analyst at Edward Jones who tracks General Mills said in the article, “. . . .” we believe there is a sustainable trend of pet parents treating their pets more like humans, namely paying more attention to ingredients and premium brands.”
When InvoCare purchased the the pet crematories in 2020, InvoCare CEO Martin Earp said something very similar, “. . . it is our belief that our deep experience in memorialisation in our core business will transfer across to the pet sector given the increasing trend towards the humanisation of the pet industry.”
So, as we see death care companies looking to put pet cremation services into their offerings we can also see that there appears to be high number of pets — which will indeed lead to pet deaths — and their seems to be more and more families treating pets as “humans”. They’ve (pet crematory advocates) made that assumption that “death care” will be in these pets future.
But, will it be that easy?
I have friends who have owned funeral homes and cremation oriented facilities and have both been successful in the “Pet Death’ business, but both told me that it is not as simple as hanging out a shingle that you are now in the pet cremation business. For one, veterinarians, in many instances can be competitors and they are many times have an advantage by being with the pet families at the time of death.
Pet services can be a money making proposition but just like your funeral home, it takes brand building, many times working in conjunction with veterinarians, the right pricing policy, and great service to make pet death care successful. The pet death care centers acquired by InvoCare in 2020 did about US$ 14.12 million in revenue and about US$ 3.8 million in EBITDA on a combined 66,000 pet cremations for the prior year . . . so yes, great success is possible.
I also believe that, done right, a pet cremation business can build your funeral home brand. Pets have a shorter life expectancy than humans so the odds of taking care of a pet, or multiple pets, for a family is realistic before ever being asked to take care of a human death care service in that family. How you handle the pet service may very well give you a loyal client before they ever need human services. In this realm. . .pet services would add value to your funeral home by building clientele. . . . However, it could go the other way too. . . .a loyal family may not like the way the pet services were done and may think about using another funeral home for a human service.
So, I think pet services and memorialization will be a growing trend in the death care space. However, I suggest you research the options of how to build the business in your community before jumping in.
Related — Regency Pet — taking pet memorial services and cremations national across the USA.
More news from the world of Death Care:
- Jones to retire after decades of serving others in need. Bob Jones – Jones Funeral Home. Altoona Mirror (PA)
- End-of-Life planning app helps you prepare for mortality. Freethink
- Cremated body discovered in rare 2300-year old Istanbul tomb. The Jerusalem Post
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