The U.S. pet food industry uses 8.65 tons of animal- and plant-based ingredients for dog and cat food annually, contributing US$6.9 billion to the country’s agricultural economy. That’s according to a new report, “Pet Food Production and Ingredient Analysis,” jointly funded and released by the Institute for Feed Education and Research, North American Renderers Association and Pet Food Institute (PFI).
I imagine many people will join me in considering this very welcome and long-needed information. At Petfood Industry, we often receive questions from pet food professionals about the usage of various pet food ingredients – data that has always been difficult to find. (With the exception of commodity ingredients, if you have the knowledge and time to dig through pages and pages of data from the US Department of Agriculture.) So I congratulate these organizations on undertaking this research and sharing it freely with the industry.
The research and analysis of pet food ingredient usage was conducted by Decision Innovation Solutions, an economic research and analysis firm. Besides its own research, it used a base of pet food sales data purchased from Nielsen, resulting in an overall picture of the market at US$30 billion and 9.8 million metric tons in retail sales in 2018. Not surprisingly, dry dog food was the largest category in both value and volume sales that year, at US$11.2 billion and 5.6 million metric tons, respectively.
Highlights of the ingredient research include:
While many people and pet food businesses will find this ingredient data very interesting and useful, there is more meaning behind the research, and one of the motivating factors for why the three organizations funded it: further proving the worth of pet food to the U.S. economy. According to the report, 519 pet food manufacturing facilities are located in 42 of the 50 U.S. states. This contributes to what the sponsoring organizations called “upstream” volume and sales.
“The purchase of these products from farmers and farmer-product processors stimulates additional upstream economic activity to other related agricultural industries via the multiplier effect,” read a press release on the report. “The exchange of pet food ingredients leads to the purchase of an additional US$5.3 billion of important materials and services for farmers and farm processors, such as crop inputs, machinery and labor. In addition, those suppliers buy an additional $4.1 billion in services, equipment and labor to meet related needs.”
Dana Brooks, president and CEO of PFI, stated it this way: “This data is an important step in helping to quantify the economic value this industry brings to our economy and all of U.S. agriculture. As pet lovers, we’ve known the value that pets bring to our lives, but can now further confirm the significance of the entire pet food industry.”
During a webinar about the report, Brooks also pointed out the sustainability role of pet food ingredients liked dried distillers grains from the brewing and liquor industries, rendered protein meal and other animal proteins like organ meats. They use leftover or unwanted ingredients from the human food industry (also known as by-products) that would otherwise go to waste.