Pet Food Market Trends
on July 31, 2013

US pet owner spending: Behavior versus attitude

With US pet owners, is it best to follow what they spend, not what they say?

After the Great Recession, it was not surprising to see growth of petfood sales in the US reach only 2.8% in 2010. While any growth was positive, especially considering how the global economy was faring overall, that was down from 6% growth just three years before and 8.3% in 2002, according to Packaged Facts.

Also not surprising was the type of sentiments expressed by pet owners post-recession. For example, in Packaged Facts' 2010 US pet shopper survey, 34% of respondents agreed with the statement, "I am spending less on pet products these days because of the economy."

Here's the surprise : When Packaged Facts included that same statement in its 2013 US pet shopper survey, the number of respondents expressing agreement was actually a little higher, 35%. Yet, the US pet industry is on track to grow 4.7% this year, with petfood sales alone increasing 5%.

What's more, sales are rising in US channels that tend to feature higher-priced petfoods, such as where natural, gourmet and specialty foods for humans are sold; dog food sales increased by 10.5% to 24% in 2012 (depending on the exact type of retail outlet) and cat food by 8.5% to 30%. Conversely, sales of petfood in US mass market channels, where mid-priced and economy products reign, are flat, according to Packaged Facts. (For more information, see p. XX.)

Why the discrepancy  between pet owner sentiment and spending? Perhaps new research can shed some light. In 13 key segments tracked by Mintel

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