A report from The New Zealand Herald mentioned cat food among New Zealand supermarkets' top 10 frequently bought goods in 2019, reflecting the popularity of cats among New Zealand’s pet-owning population. Kiwis' supermarket buying behavior saw all sorts of retail-ready cat food (canned, refrigerated, frozen, air dried, freeze dried, baked and dry kibble) sharing basket space with top human food essentials such as bread, eggs and fruits, as well as nice-to-have items like chips, soda and chocolates.
A market study by Auckland, New Zealand-based Coriolis Research Ltd. in 2014 found 47% of households in the country have a cat. The New Zealand Pet Food Manufacturers Association had a lower calculation (44%) which translated to a domestic cat population of 1.419 million. Both parties believe New Zealand continues to have the world's highest rate of cat ownership per household.
The association valued New Zealand's prepared cat food market volume at 31,353 metric tons and worth US$226 million. It said big supermarkets are the dominant (87%) sources of cat food in their country, with the rest being supplied by veterinary clinics and pet shops. Cat food in cans and pouches account for 46.1% of sales from supermarkets, followed by dry cat food (36.2%), chilled cat food (10.8%) and cat treats (6.6%).
Pet food emerged as one of the six best “emerging growth opportunity” sectors of the New Zealand food and beverage industry in Coriolis' research.
Ironically, Mars Petcare will be shutting down its manufacturing plant for Whiskas cat food pouches in Whanganui, New Zealand by the end of 2020. The 26-year-old facility will be relocated in Thailand to cut down on operating costs and bring the products closer to the more vibrant Asian pet food markets. The factory currently employs 152 people, according to reports, who will receive compensation for their lost jobs as well as retraining and Mars-backed assistance in finding new jobs, per a collective employment agreement.
New shelter data casts doubt on whether the pet population and pet ownership are truly growing.
While the pandemic caused unprecedented suffering worldwide in 2020, the disruptions to dogs, cats and other pets adoption numbers may normalize in 2021.