Celebrating its 50th anniversary, the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association (PFMA) announces the results of its annual pet population survey of 8,000 households.
Data confirms a stable population of 12 million pet owning households in the UK (41%).
“Over recent months, our lives have been disrupted by unprecedented social, economic and emotional challenges as a result of COVID-19,” said Michael Bellingham, chief executive of PFMA. “Throughout this period, the tremendous support provided by our pets has been widely documented. Pets have helped many of us navigate these strange times by bringing much needed comfort, happiness and routine.”
Trends expert, Joeri Van den Bergh, looked at the impact of COVID-19 on pet owners
“In our COVID-19 lockdown research we witnessed confined pet owners paying extra attention to physical and mental wellbeing by playing with their cats and walking their dogs,” Van den Bergh said. “Many mentioned having more time with their pets as the positive side of working remotely from home. With restricted contacts, pets turned out to be even more important companions than ever before, providing a welcomed alternative for hugs from our human but distant friends and relatives.”
Fifty years ago, the budgerigar was the UK’s third most popular pet and there were only 5.1 million dogs and 4.6 million cats. Since then, the dog population has grown 76% and cat population has grown 63%. These figures transcend growth in the human population, which is 19% over 50 years. Dogs have predominantly held on to the No. 1 spot through the years, although cats did claw their way to No. 1 over the millennium.
HISTORICAL DOG AND CAT POPULATIONS
1970: Dog 5.1m / Cat 4.6m
1980: Dog 5.6m / Cat 4.9m
1990: Dog 7.4m / Cat 6.8m
2000: Dog 6.5m / Cat 8m
2010: Dog 8m / Cat 8m
2020: Dog 9m / Cat 7.5m
“Looking at the numerous positive stories of pet interaction throughout this period of change, it is likely that more people will see the benefits of pet ownership,” Bellingham said. “We look forward to watching the landscape evolve further over the next 50 years.”
Pet owners want a lot from their pet food brands. They want primary proteins that suit what they believe is best for their animal. They want grains or they don't. They want something customized, but it has to be easy to understand.
Constraints and crises, like those experienced in 2020, help drive innovation and sustainability offers context.