Petfood sales continue to grow at a modest pace, accompanied by anemic volume growth. Data available as of the beginning of December show global petfood sales have increased 4% this year, according to the folks at Euromonitor International, who generously provided year-to-date figures along with comparisons to 2010.

 

 

Keeping pace with the 4.4% increase the entire pet product industry saw from 2009 to 2010, the 4% increase for petfood sales this year was fueled by 11.9% growth in Eastern Europe and 9.3% growth in Latin America, followed by 4.6% in Australasia, 3.9% for Asia Pacific and 3.5% for North America. Middle East and Africa recorded 2.4% growth, while Western Europe barely registered with a 1% increase. That all added up to US$65.8 billion in sales worldwide, compared to US$63.3 billion in 2010.

 

 

Note that these data comprise all categories of petfood. When you look at just cats and dogs (subtracting petfood for other species), the growth rates are nearly the same, with the 2011 total sales number at US$61.8 billion.

 

 

With volume, global sales of all petfoods in metric tons grew just 1.8%, with growth rates for so-called developed regions like North America and Western Europe just below or above 1%; Australasia hardly grew volume at all (0.28%). That tells me value sales gains there and in North America likely came from premium or superpremium sales and/or price increases.

 

 

On the other hand, Eastern Europe saw 6% volume growth and Latin America had nearly 5% growth, meaning their petfood markets continue to be dominated by economy- and mid-priced brands, though sales of premium and superpremium petfoods are gaining ground.

 

 

Asia Pacific volume sales actually declined year over year, down 3.2%, despite the 4.6% value sales gain. With Japan the dominant petfood market in that region, the natural disasters it suffered this year likely had an effect, though other countries probably helped pick up the slack in value sales. (India, China and Thailand are among the fastest-growing petfood markets, according to Euromonitor.)

 

 

In all, 21.1. million tons of all petfoods have been sold worldwide year to date, with dog and cat food volume accounting for the bulk of that (20.6 million tons). As with value sales, when you subtract volumes of petfood sold for other species, the growth (or, in Asia Pacific's case, decline) rates for dog and cat food volumes mirror those cited above for all petfoods.

 

 

The bottom line? Though growth rates are not as robust as those the industry enjoyed in the heady years before the 2008 recession, petfood sales keep rising above the still-struggling economy. Which is a nice note to end the year on and to build on for an even more successful 2012.