Analysts with Mintel, a market intelligence agency, forecast that cat and dog food spending will reach GBP2.9 billion (US$3.7 billion) in 2020 in the United Kingdom. The market value rose 16% over the past five years. While pet food sales value continues to grow, volume growth was lower, at approximately 3%, during that same period. Currently, 60% of UK residents own some type of pet with dog (35%) and cat (29%) ownership holding steady.

Mintel analysts surveyed 2,000 pet owners in the United Kingdom in May 2019. Their results suggest that changing societal priorities may alter pet food demand trends. As pet owners move away from meat in their own diets, their dogs’ and cats’ foods may reflect those humans’ concerns.

“Our research finds that many pet owners are keen for their cats and dogs to adopt some of the alternative diet trends that are being embraced by humans,” Emma Clifford, associate director of food and drink at Mintel, said in a press release. “The fact that a third of dog food buyers agree that it is good for pets to regularly have plant-based meals is a key example of the considerable scope of the humanization of pets trend. The growing interest in plant-based diets among the population as a whole has a lot to do with this trend extending to our four-legged friends.”

  • 34% of UK dog food buyers believe it is good for pets to regularly have a plant-based meal instead of a meat-based one.
  • 43% dog food buyers believe it is healthier to limit the amount of red meat eaten by pets, than not limit it at all.
  • 58% dog food buyers aged 16-24 believe it is healthier to limit red meat in their dogs’ diets, compared to just 30% of dog food buyers aged 45+.
  • 40% dog food buyers aged 16-24 are in favor of regularly dishing up plant-based meals, compared to just 21% of owners aged 55+.

Digestive health and pet food survey results in UK

“Digestive health is also on pet owners’ radar, mirroring the fact that most UK adults agree that gut health is essential to their own overall health,” Clifford said. “We expect the humanization trend to continue, as consumer interest in functional and all-natural pet foods is likely to increase.”

  • 76% of cat/dog food buyers believe that actively looking after pets' digestive health is essential for their overall health.
  • 44% believe that pet food with 'good bacteria' (such as fermented foods) is good for pets’ health.
  • 42% of pet food buyers consider their pet a “foodie.”
  • 71% pet food buyers say that a pet's diet has a direct impact on its emotional wellbeing.
  • 51% show an interest in food with calming ingredients such as chamomile and hemp.

Homemade pet food survey results in UK

“Making pet food from scratch or offering leftovers poses notable competition for the pet food market,” Clifford said. “For most, this is in addition to bought pet food, occasional leftovers traditionally playing a part. The interest in pet owners seeking guidance for making pet food at home and in meal kits points firmly to home-cooked pet food going beyond the sharing of table scraps with pets. While the larger appetites of many dogs may encourage making food at home to help economise, health considerations are likely to, in part, underpin the interest in making pet food from scratch. In fact, three-quarters of UK adults say that cooking human meals from scratch is important to eating healthily, a sentiment which is likely to extend to pet food.”

  • 27% of dog owners cooked from scratch/served leftovers to their pets in 2019, up from 22% in 2018.
  • 21% of cat owners reported scratch-cooking/serving leftovers in 2019, up from 13% in 2018.
  • 46% of cat/dog food buyers are interested in guidance for making pet food at home.
  • 32% find meal kits for making pet food at home appealing.
  • 45% of pet food buyers say they would be willing to pay to have their pet's DNA tested (eg via a saliva swab) to find out the healthiest diet for their pet.