Pet food market focus: Europe still a global powerhouse

Europe is the second largest pet food market worldwide, with many leading companies in Western Europe now joined by fast-growing Eastern European players.

Countries in Europe remain major players in a global pet food market. (Andrea Danti |
Countries in Europe remain major players in a global pet food market. (Andrea Danti |

With the August issue of Petfood Industry looking at pet food markets, we should also highlight Europe as one of the largest pet food regions globally. The region saw 2018 revenue of EUR21 billion (US$23.7 billion), according to FEDIAF, the European Pet Food Federation. That places it second only to North America worldwide.

Other FEDIAF data confirm Europe’s ongoing strength in pet food:

  • 132 pet food companies manufacture their products at approximately 200 plants;
  • These companies directly employ an estimated 100,000 people, plus about 900,000 indirect employees;
  • Volume of pet food sold in 2018 was 8.8 million metric tons;
  • Besides pet food, pet products accounted for EUR8.5 billion (US$9.6 billion) in sales in 2018, with pet-related services totaling EUR10 billion (US$11.3 billion);
  • That makes the total “pet economy” in Europe, including pet food, worth EUR39.5 billion (US$44.6 billion), up from EUR36.5 billion (US$41.2 billion) in 2017 – an 8.2% year-over-year increase, even healthier than the 2.5% three-year average cited by FEDIAF.

Europe leads in top pet food companies

In terms of the number of leading pet food players, as assessed by Petfood Industry's Top Pet Food Companies database, Europe outranks North America, 42% to 37%. That the latter region has greater sales than Europe owes mainly to the fact that the two largest companies globally by far – Mars Petcare and NestlĂ© Purina PetCare – have pet food headquarters in the U.S.

Yet 19 of the top 50 pet food companies by revenue in 2018 were based in Europe, also surpassing the 18 based in North America. And, like large pet food players the world over, many of these have grown due to a robust acquisition strategy. United Petfood Producers’ 2018 acquisition of BYNSA Pets boosted its annual revenue by a gaudy 150%.

What I find particularly exciting for the industry is the number of Eastern European players joining the many strong Western companies on the top list for Europe overall. Three of the top 35 European companies listed in our May 2019 issue are based in Eastern Europe – Partner in Pet Food in Hungary, Vafo Group in Czech Republic and Kormotech in Ukraine – only about 3%, but these companies are fast-growing and continuing to move up the global ladder.

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