The proportion of value sales accounted for by private label in the US$61.9 billion global petfood market (2010) stood at 11.6% in 2009, up by just 10 basis points since 2004. However, this stable global market share belies significant inter- and intra-regional variations. Global market share may be stable, but it masks a much more complex regional picture. Let's take a closer look.

In spite of an ongoing recession, the 2007 recalls continues to adversely impact private label sales in North America. Private label accounted for 10.2% of North American petfood value sales in 2009. Although this figure stood at 10.5% in 2004, it had fallen to as low as 9.7% in 2007. This dip can be largely attributed to the impact of the 2007 petfood recalls, which was centered on a Canadian private label manufacturer, Menu Foods. As a result, consumer confidence in the safety of private label pet offerings was badly shaken. However, in subsequent years, recession has squeezed the disposable incomes of many American households, fuelling a modest recovery in private label’s overall market share.

North American consumers have become much more indulgent of their pets in recent years, fueling market-beating growth in such segments as premium dry dog and cat food. However, private label manufacturers are adapting to this, increasing their share of premium dry dog food sales from 1.1% to 3.1% between 2004 and 2009. Their share of premium dry cat food exhibited even more vigorous growth, expanding from 2.6% to 6.8% over the same period.

In the Western European petfood market, private label is particularly important, accounting for 19.6% of value sales in 2009, up from 17.7% in 2004. In general, Western European consumers have proved much more willing than their North American counterparts to abandon branded products for private label across a range of fast moving consumer goods categories, ranging from home care to packaged food. Petfood has been at the forefront of this trend, perhaps aided by the growth of pet superstores, particularly Fressnapf and, to a lesser extent Pets at Home, in the region.

This is particularly the case in Germany, where private label accounted for 35% of value sales of petfood in 2009. However, most of this growth occurred prior to 2007 when economic growth was quite weak in Germany. Unlike many other developed economies, Germany has fared quite well during the current global downturn, and this relatively benign economy has slowed growth in the market share of private label. This stands in stark contrast to the likes of Spain, where the market share of private label was static until 2007 but then began to rise as its economy began to buckle.

Private label products have yet to gain significant traction in the Asia-Pacific market, accounting for just 2.1% of value sales in 2009, up a mere 10 basis points since 2004. In such markets as Japan, premium petfood is increasingly the norm, but as of yet, there are no significant private label offerings. However, with hard-pressed Japanese consumers now less brand-conscious than before in such markets as clothing, they may now be ready to follow the lead of North American consumers and purchase premium private label petfood.

In emerging markets like China and India, those who purchase petfood tend to be much more affluent than the norm, and private label does not hold much appeal for them. This may change as petfood becomes a more commonplace purchase for less affluent owners, but this will be a slow process that will take many years.

Having risen steadily from 8.7% to 9.5% between 2004 and 2008, the share of Australasian petfood value sales accounted for by private label fell back to 9% in 2009. The Australian economy has fared particularly well during the global downturn, so most local consumers have not been forced to trade down. Moreover, consumer worries over melamine contamination in petfood have hurt sales of private label products.

The Latin American petfood market has seen a slow but steady rise in the market share of private label in recent years, from 2% to 2.8% between 2004 and 2009. This growth has largely been driven by economy products as the region’s middle-class swells and a growing number of owners substitute table scraps for prepared products.

For example, according to Euromonitor International data, the proportion of Brazilian households with an annual disposable income in excess of US$25,000 (at purchasing power parity) rose from 20.3% to 28.3% between 2004 and 2009. Over the same period, value sales of economy dry dog food more than doubled, to over US$1.1 billion (significantly outperforming mid-priced and premium products). In Latin America as a whole, the proportion of value sales of economy dry dog food accounted for by private label rose from 6.7% to 9.3% between 2004 and 2009.

The emergence of a strong middle-class is also driving private label growth in the Eastern European pet market. Another factor is the growth of Western European supermarkets/hypermarkets (such as Tesco in Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia), which have made private label more accessible to consumers in the region. The global downturn has also made Eastern European consumers somewhat more amenable, with the value share of private label jumping from 7.3% to 7.6% between 2008 and 2009. Private label products are less of a factor in the Russian market, where they accounted for a mere 2.9% of petfood value sales in 2009. This is largely due to the fact that many poorer owners in Russia still tend to feed their pets table scraps.

Private label petfood has performed well in the Middle East and Africa, driven mainly by strong gains in economy segments (up from a value share of 36.2% to 44.4% in economy dry dog food between 2004 and 2009 and from 10.1% to 22.7% in economy dry cat food). This was driven in large part by a strong rise in the proportion of owners feeding their pets prepared food (up from 33% to 43% between 2005 and 2010 among cat owners in Saudi Arabia, for example). However, private label is virtually absent in the mid-priced and premium segments. As a result, its overall market share in petfood rose only modestly, from 5.9% to 6.6%, over this period.

The future and private label petfoods

According to Private Label Buyer (, private label outperforms the national brands in the increasingly high-end petfood category, but store brand share remains low. Read Denise Leathers' article, "Barking Up the Right Tree," at and find out how private label petfoods can really grow.