Petfood Workshop: pet treat market has opportunity for growth and innovation

While growth in pet food sales may have slowed, the pet treat market is still showing growth with consumers looking for innovative products.

David Sprinkle 1504 Pe Tpetfoodforum

Even in the murky US economy, consumers are still saying they are spending more on pet products than they used to, according to a recent survey by Packaged Facts. And, much of that growth is in the pet treat market, according to David Sprinkle, Packaged Facts’ research director. Sprinkle spoke on the upcoming trends in form and function in the dog and cat treat market during the opening session of Petfood Innovation Workshop, April 27 in Kansas City, Missouri, USA.

According to Sprinkle, the percentage of dog owners that purchase treats has remained fairly steady near 78 percent, but cat treats purchasers have gone up from 40 percent in 2004 to 47 percent in 2014. “Dogs have always let in treat usage because they are better beggars,” said Sprinkle. “But cat treats have a good story to tell in terms of rising usage rates."


Volume of cat treats growth now stands at 10%, making it the leading category aside from freeze-dried pet foods.

While the volume of dog treats has grown significantly, Sprinkle said the dollar value in sales has grown 6.4 percent. This reflects the increased emphasis on high-value and specialized treats and pet food products. The aging of the pet population also is creating growth and opportunity in the pet health supplement and nutritional benefit areas of the treats market. He cited statistics that show 39 percent of dog owners now have dogs 7 years or older, which ties into health and weight control products for pets.

Despite the continued trend toward humanization of the market, Sprinkle cited statistics that show the pet owner is still a value-conscious shopper. “Although the overall news is good, you can’t just choose your price and slap it on product,” he said. Sprinkle also sees opportunity for innovation in packaging. “Consumers are looking for real innovation in packaging,” he said. “You can see that in the food market with packaged salads, k-cups and other new products. Transparency–both in showing the product and describing its contents and benefits–is one of the key factors in food packaging.

One worrisome trend Sprinkle sees for the treat market is the growth in home delivery of pet food and treats. He said that Amazon now accounts for approximately 10 percent of the pet food and treat market, with that number growing, especially among millennials. “With people going to the store less, they are losing the opportunity for the impulse buy of pet treats,” said Sprinkle. “That makes the case to address health and wellness concerns for pets in the treat market to take them out of the impulse buy category.”

Petfood Forum 2015 takes place April 27-29. In its 23rd year, the conference is making its debut in Kansas City, Missouri, USA, the hub of the global pet food industry.

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