Fresh and frozen/refrigerated food is marketed to consumers as simply better for pets and pet parents are responding.
Although the global economy remains troubling and the petfood industry as a whole has started to feel its prolonged effects, a small segment of petfood producers is experiencing an impressive and remarkable amount of growth. According to the Packaged Facts report U.S. Pet Market Outlook 2011-2012, the fresh/frozen/refrigerated petfood category is, and will remain, a strong performer despite the economic downturn.
During 2010, frozen/refrigerated dog food made an impressive 10% jump in retail sales (see Table 1), while frozen/refrigerated sales on the cat food side rose from virtually nothing in 2009 to US$600,000 in 2010. In both cases, this growth is attributable almost exclusively to the efforts of Freshpet, which gained the backing of Tyson in March 2009, says Packaged Facts. Although the fresh/refrigerated, raw/frozen and dehydrated petfood segment remains miniscule and slightly segmented within the scheme of the overall petfood market—at under 1% of sales—Packaged Facts expects sales in this segment to grow by 25% on a compound annual basis through 2015.
Like the raw/frozen petfood segment, which is experiencing similar levels of growth, refrigerated petfood has yet to attract a major petfood marketer, according to Cascadia Capitol LLC. However, if the petfood market is to experience dynamic growth and take the next step and continue the trend of mirroring human foods, it will need to branch out beyond shelf-stable, and frozen and refrigerated are the two broadest and most logical avenues. New food introductions increased 19% and petfood SKUs increased 9% in 2010, according to Cascadia's Pet Industry Overview – Fall 2011 report.
Marketing messages have also been incredibly successful in increasing acceptance of rotational diets that incorporate multiple types of petfoods (dry/wet/fresh, for example) by emphasizing the health and wellness benefits of such a diet and of the alternative food forms.
The Cascadia report goes on to say that market conditions for alternative petfoods such as dehydrated, freeze-dried and raw continue to improve as "kibble brands" proliferate. Marketing messages have also been incredibly successful in increasing acceptance of rotational diets that incorporate multiple types of petfoods (dry/wet/fresh, for example) by emphasizing the health and wellness benefits of such a diet and of the alternative food forms. Fresh and frozen/refrigerated food is marketed to consumers as simply better for pets and pet parents are responding.
And manufacturers of these appealing products are offering consumers a plethora of products with simplified ingredient lists, a significantly shorter shelf-life that is touted as a "less-processed" alternative, and stories of sick, overweight, elderly or simply finicky dogs and cats benefiting from their formulas. Raw Advantage, for example, not only has raw petfood diets like duck, chicken and lamb for both dogs and cats, but it is also certified organic and emphasizes that its product is a "more natural way" to feed pets, pointing to the way wolves and lions eat in the wild. More established brands like Nature's Variety introduced their Instinct line, which encourages the introduction of several feeding forms into an animal's diet, including dry, refrigerated and raw/frozen. Although this segment is currently being flooded and segregated further into various cooked and uncooked forms, the variety of ways for pets to eat will only continue to diversify.
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