By Aluisio Alves
SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Unilever PLC <ULVR.L> chose Brazil, which boasts the second largest population of dogs and cats in the world, to launch a line of pet care products as it tries to offset lower sales of more traditional consumer goods.
The new brand, called Cafuné, includes hygiene products for dogs and cats, developed with the help of veterinarians, as well as cleaning products for the homes of pet owners.
Cafuné means a caress on the head in Brazilian Portuguese.
The company did not reveal the size of its investment in a market worth 35.4 billion reais (4.9 billion pounds) last year, according to the Pet Brasil Institute, and is expected to keep growing fast.
Brazil currently ranks No. 2 in the world, behind only the United States, for dog and cat population, and that is projected to reach 101 million by 2030, a study by the Getúlio Vargas Foundation, which was cited by Unilever, said.
The product range includes four types of pet shampoo, two conditioners, granulated products for cat litter trays, rugs for dogs with rapid absorption properties to control urine odor, and disinfectants and floor cleaning products.Along with the new brand, Unilever set up a 24-hour call center with nurses and veterinarians to assist pet owners. Unilever's launch came two months after the local pet products chain Petz <PETZ3.SA> debuted on Sao Paulo's B3 stock exchange with an initial public offering (IPO) of 3 billion reais.
(Reporting by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Tom Brown and Jane Merriman)