Pet ownership is on the rise in Argentina, according to Carlos Crosetti, DVM, PhD, who discussed the country's petfood market in his Petfood Forum 2014 talk, "New product development and the Argentinean petfood market." The discussion, held on April 1, covered statistics, trends and a future outlook on a market that's been stable with little growth for the last several years, but is expected to pick up soon.
Through 2011, Latin America overall saw a pet care market growth of 10% year over year, with the market stalling in 2012 and 2013, according to Crosetti, who is the technical manager for Grupo Pilar S.A. "I assume this is due mainly to the economic situation we've been facing the last few years," he said. "What we are seeing is that there's a shift in the products people are buying. Superpremium and premium buyers are moving to standard or budget products. But, people don't abandon petfood. They continue to purchase commercial petfood, rather than switching to scraps."
But with 9 million dogs and 3 million cats in households in Argentina, Crosetti expects the market to improve. "I'm sure that once the economic situation recovers, the market will continue growing," he said. "Latin American countries have, more or less, grown 8%-12% in the last four or five years. I think that in the future, the Argentina market will grow again."
The pet humanization trend hitting hard in larger markets such as North America is very present in Argentina, as well. As aging populations turn to pets for companionship in their later years, and younger generations staying single and childless for longer look for their own animal companionship, people are focusing on their pets-and are willing to pay to do so.
This consumer devotion has led to the opportunity for industry education and communication, according to Crosetti.
"We have to work to try to educate consumers about pet nutrition," he said. "We have to enable the pet parent community-people have to understand the link between the human and pet relationship. We have to facilitate the connection between a person and their pet."
The best way to communicate is through pet owners' focus on nutrition and health for their pets, and product research and development should reflect that. "We must consider not just the food intake, but also the level of nutrients we're going to see in our formulas," said Crosetti. "We have to consider the balance and relationship between nutrients. We have to consider the bioavailability of nutrients." Petfood shelf life and the feeding habits of pet parents should also be significant considerations.
The specialization and premiumization of petfoods are increasing globally in response to market demands, and Argentina's market is no different in that regard. Foods focusing on digestive health, immune system response (puppies), weight loss management, coat health/sensitive skin, joint health, urinary tract health, heart health and liver health are all areas of note for the growing market.
Tangent to the petfood market is the pet treat market, which Crosetti said has not grown nearly to the levels of other areas in Argentina. "The treats market is very, very small, he said. "It has been stable for the last six or seven years. It's something that's growing mainly in the grocery channel, and perhaps in the veterinary and pet shop channels." For now, the pet treat market in Argentina consists mostly of dry bone-type treats, though the moist/semi-wet treat is gaining some ground. Either way, the market is small. "Right now there are two or three locally based companies manufacturing treats," said Crosetti.
Though the current petfood market situation is currently more one of stability than growth in Argentina, an economic recovery is all it will take to jump start growth once more.