In the United Kingdom, retail sales of pet food, treats and litter reached GBP2.9 billion (US$3.7 bil) in 2019, out of a total UK pet industry valued at GBP6.3 billion (US$8.1 bil), according to Mars Petcare ‘State of the Pet Nation’ report using data from Nielsen. UK’s pet industry had higher sales in 2019 than chocolate, toilet paper or breakfast cereals. Between 2011 and 2019, pet care sales’ 2.5% cumulative growth outperformed the wider fast-moving consumer goods category, which increased 1.9% over the same time. Mars Petcare projected UK’s pet care market will grow GBP340 million (US$439 mil) in the next five years, with total category compound annual growth of 2.4%.
Factors driving UK pet food sales growth
As in many other nations, British pet owners increasingly view their pets as not just family members worthy to come in out of the yard, but as their children. Seventy-two percent of UK pet owners consider themselves as their pet’s parent, according to Mars’ report. Those pet owners may be a boon to supermarkets and other mass market retailers in the UK. Pet care shoppers tend to spend 26% more on groceries than people who don’t own pets.
The humanization of pets, along with the tendency of pet owners to spend more at the store, may be main drivers of UK pet food sales growth. UK supermarket pet food sales volume declined every full year since 2013. However, pet food sales value increased by a cumulative 7% during the past decade in the UK. Varieties of dog and cat food grew at different rates. Two of the strongest performers, wet single serve cat food grew by 8% and wet single serve dog increased 6%. Those serving styles tend to be premium or superpremium varieties.
Declining pet food sales volume may have resulted from a trend towards smaller breeds while UK pet ownership rates remained stable.
That tendency continued during the COVID-19 pandemic, despite movement restrictions. The value of UK supermarket pet food and litter sales increased by 2.2% year-over-year in the latest 12-month period. At the same time, the number of units sold fell 2.3%.