While the American Pet Products Association and other organizations in the US pet industry are working to prove how pet ownership helps human health and well-being, the European Pet Food Industry Federation, or FEDIAF, is releasing data to show pets' contributions to the economy and society.
According to FEDIAF, pet ownership accounts for about 550,000 direct or indirect jobs throughout Europe, with 50,000 directly attributable to petfood. The other jobs include veterinarians, pet retailers, breeders and other professionals who work in the pet supplies and services industry. These people serve a combined 70 million pet-owning European households.
Overall, petfood in Europe:
- Is produced at 650 plants
- Has an annual turnover of 13.5 billion Euros (US$18.3 billion) and volume sales of 8.3 million tons
- Is growing at an annual rate of 2% (average over past three years)
The FEDIAF report, which is available for download, also pegs the annual sales of other pet products and services in Europe at 10.5 billion Euro (US$14.3 billion).
FEDIAF is a federation of 18 European petfood associations, including the Pet Food Manufacturers' Association in the UK. Recently Karen Pickwick, editor of Pet Business World, a UK publication, quoted some interesting statistics from PFMA and other sources about pet ownership and how owners humanize their pets:
- The main reasons for owning a pet in the UK, PFMA research says, are companionship, the owner (or child) had always wanted one, pets are easy to look after, a pet was rescued or it fit the owner's lifestyle
- 9% of the UK's 29 million Facebook users create pages specifically for their pets, according to the UK's largest pet insurer, and one in 10 UK pets has its own Facebook, Twitter or YouTube page
- Research by Mars Petcare UK shows a third of pet owners would sell a valuable possession to pay a veterinary bill, with 11% saying they would mortgage their house!
It seems US pet owners are not the only ones who treat their pets like full-fledged members of the family.