Adventures in Pet Food

Debbie Phillips-Donaldson, editor-in-chief of Petfood Industry, shares her insights and opinions on all things pet food, addressing market trends as well as news and developments in pet nutrition, food safety and other hot topics for the industry.

Celebrate National Pet Week with good news about pet care spending

May 6-12 is National Pet Week, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, which says the week is celebrated in the US and other parts of the world to "promote responsible pet ownership, celebrate the human-animal bond and promote public awareness of veterinary medicine."



Perhaps your company is planning a special promotion or at least timing promotional activity with local celebrations at pet retail outlets. Whether you will be marking the occasion in a formal or public manner, you might want to at least personally celebrate the news that, at least in the US, pet care spending seems resistant to the pull of the still sluggish economy. Or, as an online entity called CouponCabin puts it, pet spending is "recession-proof."



You could quibble with the wording, especially considering that, according to the federal government, the US economy has not been in recession since summer 2009. Yet many people in the country, including pet owners, are still feeling the effects and struggling to make ends meet. While spending on petfood in the US has remained healthy and even grew 4.5% last year, according to Packaged Facts (which projects another 4.5% increase in US petfood sales this year), I hear anecdotally that some pet owners who "traded down" to lower-priced petfood brands during the recession have not traded back up. Or that as owners of big dogs lose them to old age or disease, they're replacing them (if at all) with smaller dogs that are less costly to feed.



Yet according to new survey results just released by CouponCabin, 75% of respondents said the state of the economy doesn't affect how much they spend on their pets. Further, 26% said they would be willing to put their pets' healthcare needs before their own, and 22% already spend less on themselves they they do on their pets. In addition, 34% spend less on their friends and 32% spend less on family than they do their pets. (I guess that proves who really ranks in those households!)



The survey, conducted online April 19-23 among 1,299 US pet owners age 18 and older, did reveal some concerns worth watching for petfood manufacturers, especially those with premium or superpremium brands: 78% of respondents said they believe some people spend too much on their pets, including 48% who said regularly buying "gourmet" petfood was too expensive.



Still, let's take heart from the spending that is happening: 12% of respondents said they spend US$101 or more a month on their pets, while 21% report spending US$51-100 a month.










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