Online sales of pet food grew rapidly in the past few years, and the trend seems to be continuing, according to Packaged Facts’ annual report “US Pet Market Outlook, 2017-2018.”

Channel shift in pet food industry

Drastic channel shifts are at play in the pet industry, according to the report. Following on the heels of private equity's big bets on brick and mortar, in the form of the industry's two pet super stores, PetSmart (2014) and Petco (2015), the e-commerce channel began to explode with pet product sales. 

Then, with brick-and-mortar sales showing weakness, PetSmart (and its private equity backers) adopted an "If you can't beat 'em, buy 'em" strategy, purchasing online pet food retailer in April 2017 in what is considered the biggest e-commerce deal ever, surpassing Walmart's acquisition of in 2016. 

And over on the veterinary side of things, Mars Inc. bought VCA Inc. in a US$7.7 billion deal in January 2017, making its already sizable presence in veterinary care even more impressive. 

Going back to those first two deals, the PetSmart deal was one of the largest private equity deals of 2014 and the Petco deal was one of the largest leveraged buyouts of 2015. 

Scope of the pet food industry report

“US Pet Market Outlook, 2017-2018” combines information from Packaged Facts’ analysts’ observations of the pet food and products market with the results of their Pet Owner Survey. This proprietary annual report provides an evaluation of current and future trends for marketing and retailing, including veterinary services, pet food, nonfood pet supplies, and non-medical pet services (grooming, boarding, training, etc.). 

This year’s edition includes the latest in market sizing and projections, hot new product trends, as well as data from Packaged Facts proprietary Pet Owners Survey. The report has information about mergers and acquisitions, retail channel trends, and pet owner demographics and spending habits. 

Packaged Facts’ report contains charts, tables, photos and advertising images to illustrate a dramatic change in the retail channel; e-commerce has exploded, shifting focus in the pet market industry.

The report forecasts market size and growth for each category; examines new product activity; surveys retail channel trends including cross-channel shopping vs. shopper loyalty; and analyzes trends and shifts in the needs of today’s pet parents.

The report tabulates pet product sales channel by channel. Supplementing Packaged Facts’ Pet Owner Survey is an analysis of Simmons’ National Consumer Study, which is based on approximately 25,000 adult respondents surveyed annually. The report contains dozens of numerical tables and charts, as well as photographs of new products, advertising, screen shots and other images across key channels.