U.S. cat foods learn from China, Russia; Teach dog food

In the United States, cat ownership rates have trailed dogs, but in other countries, the opposite is true.

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(lalalululala | Fotolia.com)
(lalalululala | Fotolia.com)

In the United States, cat ownership rates have trailed dogs, but in other countries, the opposite is true. By sharing notes with international colleagues, pet food professionals learn techniques for marketing cat food in the U.S. and dog food in China, Russia and other countries where cats dominate the pet food market.

“In the US, we are really focusing on driving the cat business and bringing nutrition to cats,” said David Everson, chief marketing officer for Royal Canin. “In other countries, cats play the dominant role in the category. Particularly in Russia and China, cats are dominant.”

When Everson meets with colleagues from those countries, they have a cultural exchange as he shares keys to success in marketing dog food. Then the tables turn and he asks them about how to drive premium cat food sales.

“It's interesting how different it is across the globe,” he said. “Some of it is probably cultural or generational, as to the role of the animals in the society, in many cases dating back in history. In some cases, religious connections drive some of that. Understanding that, and really determining how to unlock premium cat in the United States is a top priority for us.”

Royal Canin makes several cat breed specific formulations, including one for the sphynx cat. Purebred cats are far less populous and popular than dog breeds in the U.S., though, so the pet food company hasn’t seen the same level of interest, he said.

“However, what we have seen some success with is leveraging special care products for cat owners,” he said. “In our vet business, we have a therapeutic line of products, which is very popular among cats, particularly urinary products.

Bringing those therapeutic or otherwise functional cat foods to market may transform cat health and nutrition, he said.

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