Dry pet food dominates in Mexico with an 88 percent share, according to Ivan Franco, founder of market intelligence company TripleThree International. The category’s importance to the market means focusing on the best ingredients and processes for making dry pet food, particular the premium products becoming more popular in Mexico.

Professionals from pet food producers in the country (along with others in Central America) learned about the Mexican pet food market and received hands-on tips and strategies for dry pet food production during the new Petfood Technology Workshop Mexico, held December 6 in Ensenada. Franco led off the event with an update on the market, which he totaled at MXN61.9 billion (US$3 billion) and 1.15 million metric tons to date for 2016. That data represents 6 to 8 percent growth in sales (partially due to inflation) and a 3.5 to 4.5 percent increase in volume.

Not only is most of the market dry pet food; most is also dog food, to the tune of MXN43.9 billion (US$2.15 billion) and 873.3 thousand metric tons, Franco said. Cat food comes in at MXN18 million (US$.88 million) and 279 thousand metric tons, while food for other species barely registers at MXN1 million (US$0.05 million) and 5 thousand metric tons.

While wet pet food is represented with an 11 percent market share, treats and snacks, at 1 percent, have not yet reached any significance in the Mexican market, counter to many other pet food markets worldwide, Franco’s data showed. Perhaps this aligns with the fact that premium pet food is a nascent – yet growing – segment of the market; Mexican pet owners, at least wealthier ones, are just starting to pamper their pets with higher-priced pet foods. Perhaps treats will follow in due course.

Described by Franco as products ranging in price from MXN80 to 90 per kilo (US$3.92-4.42), premium pet food sales reached US$84.3 million in 2015, or about 2.8 percent of the market. For dog food, Franco said the volume of premium products sold in 2016 would hit 89.6 thousand tons, with 6.5 thousand metric tons for premium cat food. Yet this year to date has already seen 220 new premium pet food products launched in Mexico, and products labeled as holistic and natural are fetching prices ranging from MXN110-115 per kilo (US$5.39-5.64), approaching the superpremium level.

Franco added that these categories may not have yet reached their price ceiling; an increase in price won’t affect sales much, since these consumers – the top two income groups in Mexico – are buying superpremium products anyway. Currently, just .83 million dogs in Mexico eat premium pet food, a fraction of the country’s 17 million dogs (versus 5 million cats). That means plenty of opportunity for growth.

Best practices for Mexico’s largest pet food category

Besides Franco’s session, participants in the Mexico Workshop benefited from sessions on best practices for various phases of processing dry pet food, presented by leading industry experts and suppliers. Held at the Autonomous University of Baja California’s (UABC) lab, those sessions covered:

  • Ways to test for oxidation, interpret results from an oxygen bomb test and balance the data with what your nose is telling you, offered by Kemin Nutrisurance;
  • A new, more sanitary and efficient way to convey dry pet food product once it leaves the extruder, via a sanitary hood from Schenck Process;
  • Tips for evaluating and selecting premixes of vitamins and minerals, including an overview of why premixes are necessary components of pet food formulations, presented by DSM Nutritional Products;
  • Extrusion in action, with Extru-Tech Inc.’s full extrusion lab at UABC producing a dry dog food and demonstrating how to maintain product consistency;
  • A methodology for testing the performance of the mixer, a key component of the pre-extrusion process, presented by Greg Aldrich, PhD, head of Kansas State University’s Pet Food Program, and Isabella Alvarenga, one of his PhD students.

With the Mexican pet food market poised for continued success, such information seems key to its ongoing growth.

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dphillips@wattglobal.com