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Here Are 3 Pet Food Trends to Watch in 2019

Packaged Facts released a new report.

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ROCKVILLE, MD — The U.S. retail market for dog and cat food ended 2018 with sales of $27 billion, up more than 4 percent compared to 2017, according to market research firm Packaged Facts.

The finding appears in the company’s new report Pet Food in the U.S., 14th Edition.

Packaged Facts attributes much of the growth in the pet food market to the rapid acceleration of online sales, driven especially by Amazon.com and Chewy.com.

“Although brick-and-mortar retailers have been losing sales to e-tailers, the Internet has been delivering incremental sales growth in the pet market overall,” said David Sprinkle, research director for Packaged Facts. “E-commerce sales have, in fact, been so strong that they have been more than off-setting sluggish pet product sales in other channels. We at Packaged Facts estimate that 12 million households purchased pet products online in 2018, attracted by the competitive prices and the endless aisle appeal of Internet sellers, and this number will only increase in the coming years. For pet food marketers, an omnichannel approach is therefore a necessity in a business whose consumer base will increasingly be doing some or all of its pet food shopping online.”

In 2019 and beyond, Packaged Facts forecasts that “blockbuster online sales will play an important part in the market’s future,” according to a press release from the company. But this isn’t the only trend that will drive the market.

Here are three other important market drivers that Packaged Facts highlights in the report:

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  • Personalized Pet Food. “Customized, personalized pet foods embody a range of overlapping trends, taking advantage of the ease and convenience of online sales, the desire for top notch ingredients and clean label foods, and pet owners’ desire to provide human-style variety to their pets,” said Sprinkle.Packaged Facts’ research reveals that opportunities in personalized pet food range from home-delivered, customized pet food to the use of meal toppers and add-ins, and even in-store test kitchens. Marketers and retailers are experimenting with these trends, including Petco with its JustFoodForDogs in-store kitchens, Purina with its customized Just Right brand sold online, and Ollie with its partnership with Jet.com. Allowing pet owners to pre-craft meals that are delivered to their doorstep, customize bulk foods with broths or toppers, or subscribe to a service that provides freshly prepared meals are all ways pet food marketers can cater to pet owners’ desire to go above and beyond standard kibble and spearhead the next generation of superpremium pet food.
  • Spotlight on Sourcing, Sustainability and Animal Welfare. “Pet owners want safe, nutritious foods for their fur babies, and two opportunities tie in with this demand — ingredient sourcing and ingredient claims,” said Sprinkle.Packaged Facts reports that a greater degree of transparency on the part of pet food marketers will be key to winning and keeping pet owner trust, with “clean” labels that tout ingredients sourced in a safe, sustainable and ethical manner playing a big part in pet owners’ decision-making process. The other side of this coin involves a laser focus on ingredients, whether from a functional perspective or to highlight “free-from” claims, further educating pet owners as to how good nutrition can help their pets live longer and healthier lives. Today’s pet owners are looking for ingredients that support overall health and help manage health conditions, but they are also looking to avoid ingredients that they feel are unsafe or that have been raised/harvested/created in a way that is socially, ethically, or environmentally irresponsible. Accordingly, pet food marketers need to promote sought-after ingredients while ensuring their labels tell the full and true story.In related trends, Packaged Facts expects to see the progressive edge of superpremium pet food shift from the ingredient label to broader, more holistic concerns such as the preservation of natural nutrition (largely through fresh pet foods), and to see “superpremium” increasingly encompass the proactive involvement of prestige marketers and retailers in economic system, sustainability, and animal welfare initiatives.
  • Premiumized (Further) Cat Food – The dog food category has long been the primary focus of superpremium pet foods. In many cases, companies have introduced products for dogs and then spun off cat products almost as an afterthought (a case in point being grain-free), rather than building distinctive superpremium cat foods brands from the ground up. This is in obvious contrast to the best-selling mainstream cat food brands, such as Fancy Feast, Sheba, Friskies, and Meow Mix, all of which are tightly focused on cats and cat owners. Now that superpremium dog food has gone mainstream, it is time to turn the spotlight on our feline friends.Despite the plethora of cat food options on the market, many cats still suffer from conditions that could be alleviated with better quality, more focused nutrition. Not only is the feline digestive tract markedly different from the canine, cats tend to suffer urinary tract issues with much greater frequency. Misconceptions also abound regarding a cat’s need for hydration; periodontal issues are widespread (affecting 70 percent of cats over 2 years of age and 85 percent of those over 5); and cat obesity is at an all-time high. Many of these critical health issues can be helped or even resolved by a more nutritious diet. Because cat owners are increasingly informed about the health and nutritional needs of their cats, they are increasingly receptive to — and willing to pay more for — better quality products, leaving it to pet food makers to continually raise the health and wellness bar.

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Pet Franchise to Open 50 Stores in 2019

It has over 200 units under development.

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PHOENIX — Dogtopia, a dog daycare, boarding and spa franchise, sold 100 units and opened 25 locations in 2018.

The Phoenix-based company now has over 200 units under development, according to a press release. It plans to open at least 50 stores in 2019.

So far, the brand has sold over 30 new stores in January, according to the release.

“Dogtopia is outpacing every pet franchise in North America and we were delighted about delivering another record year,” said Alex Samios, vice president of franchise development for Dogtopia. “Our unparalleled service, support and systems, combined with exceptional franchisees, has positioned us as the leading pet services brand.”

Dogtopia currently has more than 90 locations.

The brand also grew in 2018 in terms of its charitable initiatives with the Dogtopia Foundation, raising more than $150,000 to sponsor training for service dogs for veterans.

The company was recently named to Entrepreneur’s Franchise 500 list. Dogtopia ranked at No. 204 “as a result of its outstanding performance in areas of unit growth and financial performance with strong franchisee support,” according to the release.

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Petco to Carry Champion Products

Their partnership begins March 4.

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SAN DIEGO, CA — Petco and Champion Petfoods announced a partnership that will bring Champion’s Acana and Orijen dog and cat foods to Petco stores and petco.com beginning March 4.

“Champion is an extremely mission-driven company that’s built a well-deserved reputation for serving up award-winning foods for dogs and cats, and their ACANA and ORIJEN brands align perfectly with the bold nutrition standards we announced late last year,” said Petco CEO Ron Coughlin. “As a leader in providing pets and pet parents with everything they need to live healthy, happy lives together, we’re thrilled to add industry-leading brands for anyone who wants to feed their pets the healthiest foods available.”

Petco recently announced that it will not sell food or treats containing artificial colors, flavors and preservatives for dogs and cats by May 2019.

“We are extremely excited to partner with Petco, a company with such a strong reputation and commitment to ensuring the well-being of pets and peace of mind to pet lovers,” said Champion President and CEO Frank Burdzy. “This new relationship is an important step toward our goal of building trust and making our Biologically Appropriate foods available to more pet lovers everywhere.”

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Petco Chief Merchant Nick Konat said, “Consumer and industry response to Petco raising the bar on our nutrition standards has been phenomenal, and the addition of ACANA and ORIJEN to our portfolio are significant proof points in our ongoing journey to be pet parents’ trusted partner of choice.”

Petco operates more than 1,500 retail locations and employs 26,000 people across the U.S., Mexico and Puerto Rico.

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Dog-Food Startup Raises $39M

It delivers to customers’ homes.

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A startup company focused on craft dog food has completed a $39 million financing round.

The Farmer’s Dog launched in 2015 “to disrupt an industry that mostly relies on food-shelf stable, preservative-heavy dry food,” Fast Company reports. It delivers pet food to customers’ homes.

The Farmer’s Dog’s total funding is now at $49 million.

Leading the new funding round was Insight Venture Partners. Other contributors included Forerunner Ventures and Shasta Ventures.

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The Farmer’s Dog Co-Founder and CEO Jonathan Regev told Fast Company: “When you look at pet food, this processed food is being fed to them every single day, every single meal, for their entire life.”

His company seeks to change that. Its food “includes whole chunks of fresh ingredients like carrots, turkey, parsnips, chickpeas, broccoli, and spinach,” according to Fast Company.

Read more at Fast Company

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