Pet Food Market Trends
on May 8, 2017

Kibble vs. can: Why pet owners favor dry pet food (Part 1)

Pet food purchasers seem to have some definitive assumptions, as well as preferences, that may favor them towards dry pet food.

The factors that frame the most basic of commercial pet food choices, dry vs. wet, often get lost amid the attention paid to the proliferating and trendsetting formulation options: organic vs. conventional, superpremium vs. premium,  grain-free or non-GMO vs. senior/weight management or digestive, wilderness vs. superfood/culinary, fresh vs. freeze-dried.

Nonetheless, pet parents bring a set of preconceptions and preferences to the decision between dry and wet pet food that frame product choices well before brand reputation, specialty formulations, or product claims or introductions kick in. Among these, two assumptions and one preference help give dry pet food a strong advantage, in keeping with its share of pet food sales.

Dry pet food assumptions: healthier, better for oral care

Given the long tradition of mass-market canned pet food strongly positioned on pet pampering and indulgence — particularly in the cat segment, where canned food has long straddled the divide between food and treat — pet owners generally believe that dry pet food is healthier. That is, nearly half of dog or cat owners (47–48 percent) at least somewhat agree that dry pet foods tend to be healthier, and nearly twice as many strongly agree as disagree with this premise, according to Packaged Facts survey data from February/March 2017, with dog owners only slightly surpassing cat owners in this conviction (see Table 1).


TABLE 1: A significant percentage of pet owners surveyed said that they believe dry pet food formulations tend to be healthier than wet or canned foods.

A similar but even…

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