The petfood market is expanding at a steady rate worldwide and is considered one of the fastest-growing food industry segments, according to “Pet Foods: A Global Strategic Business Report,” a report from Global Industry Analysts Inc.

Market size and outlook are determined by factors such as number of pet households, consumer preferences, regional economic scenario and spending propensity of pet owners. Smaller families, decreasing birthrates and higher disposable incomes have led to a sea change in the attitudes of pet owners. Pets occupy an important place in today’s rapidly changing family structure and are looked upon as individuals and companions.

Innovations in specialty, premium and gourmet petfood products and packaging techniques will propel growth in the larger and relatively mature markets of the US, Europe and Japan, according to the study. Shift in preference for dry petfood, emphasis on nutritive and functional aspects and easy availability options are some of the key growth determinants in developing countries.

The UK petfoods market has seen strategic restructuring and development initiatives during the 2008-2009 fiscal year. Petfood brands were revamped through launch of novel pouch variants, innovative gourmet recipes and new product packaging.

The petfood industry is highly influenced by the trends and preferences in the human food market. Accordingly, the shift toward healthier, organic and natural human food finds a reflection in the petfood industry, too. This trend is particularly prevalent in developed markets such as the US, where organic food production is poised to become one of the fastest growing segments in the food industry.

The report also shows the US represents the single-most dominant global market for petfoods, trailed by Europe and Japan. Together, the US and Europe account for a consolidated share of more than 80% of the world petfood market.

The recession has done little to slow the petfood industry in the majority of the markets, particularly in the cat and dog food segment, which have shown positive results. The petfoods market is primarily categorized into the dog food and cat food segments.

Companies including Royal Canine, Hill's, Iams, Nestle and Mars/Masterfoods continued their growth trajectory. The rising trend is attributable to the increasing inclination among consumers to purchase mid-priced and premium brand products for their pets. The petfood market is characterized by the presence of a strong private-label segment. Major market participants include Del Monte Foods, Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Hartz Mountain Corp., Mars Inc., Nestle Purina PetCare Co., P&G/Iams and C&D Foods Ltd.

The full report covers market trends, growth drivers, product profile, market share data, competition, new product introductions, recent industry activity and profiles of market players worldwide. Analysis is presented for markets including the US, Canada, Japan, Europe, Asia-Pacific and Latin America. Historic data for insight into market evolution from 2000-2006 is also included.