Organic pet food market positioned for growth
Regulatory efforts and consumer attitudes may mean good news for the growth of the organic pet food market.
Ten years ago, organic pet foods appeared ready to take the shelves by storm. Organic had embarked on its fast-clipped rise in the mainstream food market, and natural pet foods had entered into mass-market channels.
However, organic pet food has yet to truly hit its stride, for three main reasons:
- Supply issues: The growth in popularity of organic foods in human markets means that suppliers are already stretched thin; in addition, many ingredients in pet foods, such as fish and other novel proteins, are not readily available in organic form.
- High prices: Higher-quality ingredients necessarily mean higher prices, and pet food companies may be gun-shy about marketing, and consumers about paying the cost for, what amounts to a super-superpremium product.
- Organic regulations complicate: With no federal mandate dictating what constitutes organic pet food, pet food marketers using the organic label must adhere to human organic food standards. Alternatively, pet food marketers may find it more tenable to stick with the “natural” label claim.
Challenges in the organic pet food market
As things stand now, organic products make up a very small part of the overall pet food market. GfK data put organic pet food sales in the pet specialty channel at approximately US$20 million, or 0.2 percent, of the market, and market penetration in mass outlets is even smaller. Moreover, Simmons Market Research consumer survey data show the percentage of dog or cat owners who buy organic pet food remaining flat at best from 2012 to 2016 (see Figure…