Decade-long fresh, raw pet food sales growth trend

As the pandemic enters its second year, the effects on raw, fresh and related pet foods echo a previous calamity. Fresh pet food may be poised to continue growing as it has for the past decade.

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(Kesu01 | BigStock.com)
(Kesu01 | BigStock.com)

As the pandemic enters its second year, the effects on raw, fresh and related pet foods echo a previous calamity. In December 2011, another crisis lingered, Petfood Industry reported, yet the raw and fresh pet food segment continued growing in the United States. A decade ago, the Great Recession still reverberated in the dog, cat and other pet food markets.

“Although the global economy remains troubling and the pet food industry as a whole has started to feel its prolonged effects, a small segment of pet food producers is experiencing an impressive and remarkable amount of growth,” reporter Jessica Taylor wrote in 2011.

That fresh, frozen or refrigerated pet food segment seemed poised to remain a strong performer, according to the Packaged Facts report “US Pet Market Outlook 2011-2012.” In 2010, that segment of dog food made a 10% jump in retail sales, while frozen/refrigerated sales on the cat food side rose from virtually nothing in 2009 to US$600,000 in 2010. FreshPet made up a large portion of these sales. The segment remained miniscule compared to the overall pet food market, making up less than 1% of sales. However, Packaged Facts analysts forecast sales in this segment to grow by 25% on a compound annual basis through 2015.

Fresh and raw pet food sales growth during pandemic

That forecast is now in the past. In Packaged Facts’ most recent report “U.S. Pet Market Focus: Pet Food Update, 2021,” fresh pet food remains a niche, but now accounts for 4% of overall U.S. pet food retail sales. Fresh dog food fuels most of this growth, with FreshPet continuing to show strength in the segment. Fresh, frozen and refrigerated dog food remains more prevalent than cat food in the segment, but David Sprinkle, Packaged Facts research director, believes the success in dog food markets will encourage product development for cats.

COVID-19 may have spurred some of this growth in fresh and raw pet foods, according to Sprinkle. Movement restrictions and other aspects of the pandemic encouraged people to spend more time bonding with pets, while fueling pet adoptions. That increase in pet ownership and affection led to increased spending on pets. Fresh pet food may now be the pinnacle of superpremium products, he wrote. 

The ongoing pandemic fueled demand for superpremium products, and fresh may be poised to continue growing as it has for the past decade. 

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