Unilever picks Brazil for its pet products debut

SAO PAULO, Nov 10 (Reuters) - Unilever PLC chose Brazil, which boasts the second largest population of dogs and cats in the world, to launch a line of pet care products on Tuesday as it tries to offset lower sales of more traditional consumer goods.

The new brand includes hygiene products for dogs and cats, developed with the help of veterinarians, as well as cleaning products for the homes of pet owners.

The company did not reveal the size of its investment in a market that moved 35.4 billion reais last year, according to the Pet Brasil Institute, and is expected to keep growing fast.

Brazil ranks No. 2 in the world today, behind only the United States, in dog and cat population, and that is projected to reach 101 million by 2030, according to a Getúlio Vargas Foundation study cited by the company.

Along with the new brand, Unilever set up a 24-hour call center with nurses and veterinarians to assist pet owners.

The launch came two months after the local pet products chain Petz debuted on Sao Paulo’s B3 stock exchange with an initial public offering (IPO) of 3 billion reais ($554 million).

$1 = 5.4147 reais Reporting by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Tom Brown