Competition, mergers heat up as petfood market growth slows
Petfood companies compete for larger slices of a pie that’s currently not getting much bigger
Thanks to high-profile acquisitions and competitive clashes, 2014 may go down in petfood industry history as one of the most impactful (not to mention interesting) years. Starting with NestlÃ© Purina PetCare finalizing its acquisition of Zuke’s in January, this rather wild ride of a year continued with Hill’s Pet Nutrition filing a complaint with the National Advertising Division (NAD) challenging Blue Buffalo Co.’s advertising claims disparaging competitors’ products, particularly those containing by-products. In March, NAD recommended that Blue Buffalo modify its ads.
No sooner had the developments from that commenced (with several twists and turns), when Purina sued Blue Buffalo in May, essentially over the same advertising claims—with the heart of the suit based on Purina saying it had conducted testing that showed Blue Buffalo’s products contained by-products, too. Blue Buffalo quickly countersued for defamation, among other reasons, and the battle was waged. In October, Blue Buffalo released a letter saying it may have received poultry by-product meal mislabeled as chicken meal from a supplier. And so the saga continues.
Meanwhile, in April, Procter & Gamble finally announced the long-rumored sale of its petfood brands, with the surprise buyer being Mars Inc.—in all markets outside of Western Europe (about 80% of the P&G petfood business), presumably because of anti-trust concerns in that region. P&G tied up that loose end in September by selling the remaining 20% to Spectrum Brands/United Pet Group, which, ironically, is based in the US.
And in October, In Vivo NSA, a French agricultural…