Premium pet food spells growth opportunity


U.S. sales of pet food will rise 16 percent between 2015 and 2018 to reach $33 billion, according to a new report from the Packaged Facts division of Rockville, Md.-based Driving category growth are an increased focus on pet health and pet owners' strong bonds with their pets.

The report, "Pet Food in the U.S., 11th Edition," notes that pet food sales reached $28 billion in 2013. But the pet food category experienced much of its growth outside of the core mass market, particularly in channels such as farm/feed, the Internet and pet specialty retail. Sales are expected to remain relatively flat through the rest of 2014, though product development opportunities — including those tied to store brands — exist in the premium food sector, as pet owners purchase these products to protect the health of their "four-legged, feathered, finned and furry family members."

“Looking ahead, the trick will be to find ways to grow this mature market, since at its current pace pet population growth is not sufficient to drive higher levels of market growth,” said David Sprinkle, Packaged Facts' research director. “For several years much of the dollar growth in the pet food market has come from converting pet owners to higher-priced foods as part of the humanization trend.”

Premium pet foods will account for 42 percent of pet food sales in 2014, followed by regular pet food at 30 percent and value pet food at 12 percent, Packaged Facts said, with treats comprising the remaining share of sales. On both the dog and cat sides of the market, the premium share of sales has expanded, mostly as a result of growth in the superpremium segment. Treats have also grown their share of the market, primarily because of the robust interest in treats among dog owners, many of whom have turned to functional treats as a way to ameliorate pet health conditions and promote overall wellness.

Cat owners, on the other hand, have not proven as likely to indulge their pets in superpremium fare, and also have been slower to embrace functional treats, suggesting areas for market expansion as cat food and treat marketers continue to trend into premium and functional fare, with products and trends often crossing over from the dog side, the market research firm said.

To learn more, visit: