COVID-19 has wrought vast and ongoing changes and challenges for U.S. businesses. Nevertheless, the pet food market has been living up to its recession-resistant reputation, highlighting the "silver lining" the overall pet market has experienced as a result of the pandemic. This is according to Pet Food in the U.S., 15th Edition, a new report by market research firm Packaged Facts.
As of August 2020, pet food sales have been booming, with full-year growth expected to come in well above Packaged Facts' initial full-year pre-pandemic projections. Although some of the sales increases can be attributed to short-term stockpiling in the early months of the shelter-in-place orders, the future outlook is positive as well, with two factors in particular bolstering the market as the country continues to adjust to the pandemic-related "new normal":
- New pet ownership: One of the benefits of stay-at-home orders has been a drive to acquire new pets. For people social distancing for the foreseeable future, new pets offer both companionship and distraction, and are especially welcomed by families with kids stuck at home. Packaged Facts' April/May 2020 Survey of Pet Owners shows that 12% of adults with children under age 18 at home adopted a pet because of coronavirus, compared with 8% of adults overall. Along with premiumization and humanization, one of the biggest pet food market drivers is growth in the pet population, so this adoption surge will likely result in ongoing sales gains despite the negative economic impact of the pandemic.
- E-commerce: Another result of stay-at-home orders has been the sheer number of consumers flocking online to purchase household essentials, including pet food, and this trend is not likely to reverse once the health crisis has passed. Pet market e-commerce was already going strong pre-pandemic, and with the current drive to invest even more in digital logistics, online sales will continue to drive pet food sales growth. As a result of the pandemic-driven accelerated consumer migration online, Packaged Facts expects e-commerce to surge to 34% of the pet food market by 2024, up from our pre-pandemic prediction of 27%. In addition to providing the safety and convenience of home delivery, the Internet is also an easy way for pet owners to research products and compare prices as economic conditions prompt belt-tightening.