Industry opinion: 'Big Food' increasingly eyeing petfood market

The acquisition of Big Heart Pet Brands by J.M. Smucker (Smucker's) is the latest in an increasing trend of 'Big Food' expanding into the petfood market.

The acquisition of Big Heart Pet Brands by J.M. Smucker (Smucker's) is the latest in an increasing trend of 'Big Food' expanding into the petfood market, according to Washington Post National Business Reporter Drew Harwell.

As petfood sales in the US continue to grow, and the specialty petfood segment in particular remains profitable, human food companies such as Smucker's and Mars are increasingly interested in entering the waters. Smucker's is purchasing Big Heart Pet Brands for US$5.8 billion, and in 2014 Mars acquired petfood lines Iams and Eukanuba. The overarching goal, say analysts, is to secure a strong market share across all prices, brands and blends in the petfood industry. According to Harwell, additional benefits include the inherent market diversification and money savings as human-food ingredients are repurposed for petfood products.

Big Heart is America's biggest seller of pet snacks, with about US$2.3 billion in net sales over the past year, said the company. Smucker's expects petfood will contribute more to its bottom line than Jif, Pillsbury, Crisco and its namesake jams and jellies, combined. "We recognize that pets are cherished members of the family," said chief executive Richard Smucker. "With approximately two-thirds of US households having at least one family pet, we will now be able to serve the mealtime and snacking needs of the whole family."

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