Recent inflationary pet food prices have only partially driven this growth. If the pet food market isn’t holistic proof of tough times, it’s very hard to resist, as has been proven in the wake of COVID.
Double-digit sales growth in the pet food market – large and mature outwardly as it is – is driven by continued product premium, if not “super differentiation”. This long-standing trend is currently evident in the success of the fresh (chilled/frozen) pet food category. Fresh pet foods tend toward the human level in formulation and direct-to-consumer (DTC) sales in distribution, albeit now rapidly moving into bricks and mortar as well. This is a market revolution, not an evolution.
The graffiti of fresh pet food is a lot like a Times Square neon flashing billboard. Freshpet, the leading refrigerated pet food company, forecasts 2025 revenue in the US 1 billion dollars to me $1.25 billion Domain. Concluding the deal on the future of fresh, Mars launched its Cesar Fresh Chef refrigerated dog food line in December 2021and acquired NomNomNow, fresh pet food marketer DTC in January 2022.
More broadly, the “regular” formula does not reduce pet food sales growth. Only half of dog and cat owners use regular formula/adult pet foods, combined with the pet owner’s increased concern for the health and wellness needs of their pets.
In this context, pet food sales are benefiting from a renewed focus on premium, scientific diets and treats – partly in the wake of fear of dog food DCM (dilated cardiomyopathy), but more broadly due to increased awareness of pet health in this age of COVID.
Furthermore, the facts packaged indicate that 38% of dog owners and 36% of cat owners like the idea of pet food backed by scientific research. Hill’s Pet Nutrition, the leading veterinary clinical nutrition company with Hill’s prescription pet food, saw full-year net pet food sales rise 14%, to $3.3 billion. An important point that Hill’s focuses on, and industry-wide buzzwords, is the microbiome.
One of the most striking aspects of the current wave of science-based pet foods, according to Pet food in the United States. author Shannon Brown, is the overlap between “natural” and “veterinary-designed” attributes for product placement, including in the DTC space. Vet’s Kitchen Cat and Dog Food – “Fresh. Healthy. Vet Approved” – represents this current innovative product.
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