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At Global Pet Expo 2014 (GPE), held last week in Orlando, Florida, USA, the story was all about growth: Overall US pet care spending is projected to grow nearly 5% this year, topping out at US$58.5 billion, according to the American Pet Products Association (APPA), organizer of the show. Of that, US petfood spending is expected to reach US$22.62 billion by the end of 2014 after increasing 4.5% in 2013 to a total of US$21.57 billion, APPA said.
And, APPA was tooting its own horn (and rightly so) for the growth of GPE. Celebrating its 10th edition this year, it has nearly doubled in size, according to Bob Vetere, president of APPA. Earlier this year, GPE was named one of the US's 50 fastest growing trade shows by Trade Show Executive magazine.
Interestingly, in a presentation given during GPE on dog and cat market trends, David Sprinkle, research director for Packaged Facts, pegged US petfood spending for 2013 at US$26.1 billion; he said the figure had been adjusted upward from his firm's earlier projections because its data sources now include sales from Walmart and other outlets previously not covered. However, that represented only 3.7% growth from 2012. (APPA does not divulge its data sources, so it's difficult to explain the discrepancy between its figures and Packaged Facts'.)
Sprinkle also highlighted two other key stories for the US pet care market:
Sprinkle added that as part of this "dogification," cat owners are also turning more and more to natural cat treats -- and manufacturers are responding. Of the many new treats on display at GPE for both dogs and cats, natural was probably the most common theme, along with functional and, increasingly, concepts borrowing from the human food world. (Note that Sprinkle will present similar information during Petfood Forum 2014 on April 1.)
For example, among its many new product offerings, WellPet featured Kittles natural cat treats (which the company claims are highly palatable and accepted, even by the most finicky cats) and Divine Duos wet cat foods, which use a proprietary technology to combine a pate product on top of a loaf product. (Sprinkle also mentioned that purchasing of moist and wet cat food is growing and is now at 53.3% of US cat-owning households, though it was already at 46.5% in 2006.)
Perhaps WellPet's most innovative and "humanized" product was one for dogs: Wellness Core Superfoods Protein Bars, directly copied from the protein bars increasingly popular among people, along with the trend toward incorporating superfoods into products. Merrick also brought out all the stops for dogs, launching more than 60 new dog food products, including many grain-free ones, during GPE.
Among miscellaneous news from GPE, whether officially announced or just heard on the show floor, these stood out:
While many would argue that currently everyone is just copying everyone else with new petfood and treat product launches, it does seem rather curious to use the same exact name.