While Brazil has the world’s eighth largest economy, its petfood market is now the second largest globally, behind only the US, according to Euromonitor. In terms of total pet care, Brazil now owns 8% of the global market, at RS$18.7 billion (US$8.3 billion), said Abinpet, the country’s pet products association, and accounts for 31% of Brazil’s GDP. Petfood comprises 53% of the pet care market, or RS$10 billion (US$4.5 billion).
It’s one thing to read such data; it’s quite another to experience this dynamism in person, as I was very fortunate to do in June when Abinpet hosted several members of the international pet community in SÃ£o Paulo. Among its many initiatives, Abinpet partners with Apex Brasil, a government agency established to promote and develop the country’s industries. (For example, Martina Campos of Abinpet told me that since her organization started its Pet Brasil partnership with Apex in 2005, the Brazilian petfood market has grown more than 20%.)
In conjunction with the World Cup, Apex organized a program called Brasil Beyond Football, incorporating many of its industry partners, to highlight and educate the world about the country’s economic strength and sectors. Abinpet’s program included presentations plus visits to six pet retail establishments throughout SÃ£o Paulo and two factories in Campinas: petfood manufacturer Mogiana Alimentos and Vetnil, a maker of pet supplements and nutraceuticals. We learned much about the market:
- Brazil produces nearly 200 million tons of grains annually, which aids the production of high-quality petfoods at reasonable cost.
- A little over 50% of pets in Brazil still eat human food and table scraps. This is quickly declining as manufacturers campaign vigorously to convert pets to commercial petfood.
- Among pet owners who do buy petfood, more are doing so online, especially dog food.
- There are 118,705 formal pet entities in Brazil, dominated by the distribution chain with 110,000. Manufacturers comprise only 1%, numbering 872. Of those, 182 are petfood companies. Some are multinationals (NestlÃ© Purina, Mars, Hill’s Pet Nutrition), but many are Brazilian owned and based.
- Brazil has a pet retail pyramid: At the bottom, pet shops (one to three employees) are highest in number; then come medium size pet stores (five to seven employees), regional mega stores and national mega stores, with pet hospitals topping the pyramid. The product offering varies from only 30% of those available in the country at small pet shops to 100% at national chains; regional and national stores also often have grooming and formal veterinary services.
- There are only two national pet store chains, Cobasi and Pet Center Marginal, and they are currently in just six to eight states. The stores offer prescription petfoods (though they don’t steer shoppers to them unless one has a veterinary prescription in hand, a store manager explained) along with many other types of petfood products, from multinationals as well as domestic brands.
- Both mega stores also regularly have representatives from the larger petfood brands on site to talk with consumers. At Cobasi, I met a Purina representative who told me she has a veterinary degree and travels around to several stores each month; at Pet Center Marginal, I saw reps for Royal Canin, Brazilian manufacturer Premier Pet and Farmina, an Italian petfood company with a manufacturing facility in Brazil.
- Small pet shops, especially in rural areas, often buy from the national mega stores to offer specific products to customers—for example, prescription or specialty petfoods.
We were also fortunate to attend the opening World Cup match. Despite protests and some people understandably upset about how its government had managed its hosting role, the prevailing attitude, at least in SÃ£o Paulo, seemed to be that, as long as the World Cup was there, they should take advantage of having the world’s attention and showcase their country and its many wonders. That was certainly the approach of Abinpet and Apex Brasil, and was evident in every pet-related establishment we visited and every employee we talked to. They know theirs is a powerful market on the way up and are proud to contribute to its rise.