In a nutshell, in the US, most of the new petfood products
were and are in the premium segment. They often promise
value-added benefits in terms of healthcare and nutritional
value to justify higher prices. This trend continues to be a
strong factor in motivating the overall growth of dog and cat
In 2004, US dog food retail sales were about US$8.9 billion;
cat food retail sales were around US$4.5 billion. Industry
estimates for new petfood products were 390 in 2003.
Euromonitor cites many examples from their review period,
1998-2005 (Petfood and pet care products in USA 2005). They
often promise health care benefits. There are products for:
Coat and skin care,
Decreased fecal volume,
Decreased fecal odor,
Easing joint pain,
Hairball control and
Making puppies more trainable.
The most prevalent type of value-added benefit was food
formulated for weight or weight maintenance.
New dog food products over the review period were focused
mainly on the treats and premium foods sectors. For the most
part, dog food was able to realize steady, if slow, value and
volume gains over the review period. Declines and stagnant
growth in the mid-priced segments were more than offset by
gains in premium brands and dog treats.
Premium products continued to develop new market
segmentation during the review period and garnered even greater
consumer interest as a result. Life cycle feeds, large breed
formulas and feeds for active and less active pets inspired
consumers to shop even more selectively for the better health
of their pets.
Dog treats saw the most new product launches in 2003 and
2004. Treats are increasingly being positioned to reproduce the
experience of human foods, both in form (popcorn, lollipops,
cookies and other dessert shapes) and in flavor (peanut butter,
vegetables). NestlÃ© has even introduced an energy bar for dogs,
with its Purina Pro Plan Performance Bar (May 2004). Another
product gaining in popularity is flavored water for dogs, such
as NutriVet LLC's K-9 Plus Nutrient Enhanced Water (May 2004)
and K-9 Water Co Inc's K-9 Vita Water for Dogs (September
In addition to replicating the form and flavor of human
food, dog treats are increasingly being introduced with
functional health benefits, as an added incentive for dog
owners to purchase them for their pets. The most prevalent
benefit in recent months has been dental care, with several new
products claiming to help reduce plaque and fight bad breath in
2003 saw a new brand leader in the dog treat category in
value sales terms. S&M NuTec's Greenies are chewable dog
treats formulated to eliminate odor-causing bacteria and reduce
tartar build-up on teeth. The small Kansas City-based company
saw enormous success with its Greenies line of treats in 2003,
helped by national roll-outs to pet superstore chains like
Petco and Petsmart during that year.
Cat treats and premium cat foods were the only source of
sales growth in 2004. Cat treats posted strong overall gains,
but remain a relatively underdeveloped subsector, while wet and
dry premium cat foods showed nearly equal sales increases in
Cat treats continue to grow at a faster rate than any other
product in the sector. Cat treats are a relatively new concept,
and have only recently begun to gain acceptance as a pampering
item or a value-added item to supplement a cat's normal diet.
Although cat treats sales continue to grow quickly, they
accounted for just 4.7% of cat food value in 2004. Dog treats
account for about 15% of dog food value.
Premium cat foods continued their strong growth during the
review period. Much like premium dog foods, manufacturers have
increasingly offered specifically-formulated premium cat foods
designed for particular sizes and life cycle stages of cats.
Formulas often deal with common cat health-related issues, such
as hairball control or urinary tract health. As pet owners
continue to regard their pets as part of the family, these
health-oriented foods hold more appeal, despite their higher
prices. Premium brands continue to be developed and marketed to
fulfill this demand.
The migration of Iams into mass-market channels in 2001
continues to fuel growth in the premium brand's sales. Iams has
shown some of the strongest gains in both the wet and dry
categories, and has increased consumer access to premium
Premium brands accounted for all of the value growth in wet
and dry cat food in 2003, and the strongest gains were enjoyed
by the largest of these brands. Hill's Science Diet led the way
with a 7.7% increase in value sales, followed by Iams with a
more modest 3.7%.
Many new foods also addressed specific dietary and health
concerns of cats. Hill's Prescription Diet m/d Dry and Canned
Cat Food (May 2004) is a low-carb, high-protein food formulated
for weight maintenance. Friskies Special Diet for Adults Dry
Cat Food (March 2004) has low magnesium and claims to reduce
urinary pH levels. Hill's Science Diet Advanced Protection Cat
Food (November 2003) has antioxidants and claims to slow the
effects of aging in cats.
Cat treats were once again a popular area for new products.
As manufacturers try to foster a habit of treating in cat
owners, new products have promoted functionality and health
benefits to complement a cat's diet. These often claim benefits
such as increased digestibility or hairball care, and also
promise to increase cat health through natural ingredients like
milk or vegetables.
The "humanization" of pets is a continuing trend, whereby
pets (particularly dogs and cats) are increasingly cared for
according to human patterns. They are often considered as
equivalent to children in the level of attention and care they
gain from pet owners. This has led to a heightened awareness of
the special health needs associated with pets at different
developmental stages, and an increased tendency to pamper pets
with toys and treats that are not really needed from a care or
Humanization has also led to some developments that further
equate pets with their owners. These have included products
such as foods with "human-grade" ingredients, treats fashioned
to look and taste like human food, and an increased array of
dessert products for dogs and cats (usually with beef or fish
flavoring). The strong performance of higher-priced premium
feeds represents a correlation with this trend, as pet owners
have a stronger desire to provide what they consider to be the
best possible food for their pets, as they would any other
member of their family.