US pet food sales rose 10% in 2020, 5% projected for 2021

The 9.7% increase in sales of pet food and treats contributed to the overall U.S. pet care marking reaching a milestone of exceeding US$100 billion.

(Madebyindigo | shutterstock.com)
(Madebyindigo | shutterstock.com)

Pet food and treat sales in the U.S. increased 9.7% in 2020, adding US$3.7 billion for a total of $US42 billion for the year, according to the American Pet Products Association (APPA). Those sales accounted for about 40% of total pet care sales in the U.S., which reached a milestone of exceeding $100 billion. That total was US$103.6 billion, representing a 6.7% and US$6.5 billion increase over 2019.

Presented by Steve King, president and CEO of APPA, during Global Pet Expo Digital Access, the strong sales and growth data reflected a strong year for the U.S. pet industry, which did not just weather a global pandemic and resulting economic crisis, but thrived as more people added pets to their homes and focused on their pets’ health and well-being as full-fledged members of their families.

Among the sectors comprising the U.S. pet market, pet food is still the largest, while pet care supplies saw the greatest sales gain in 2020, at 15.1%, increasing to US$22.1 billion, King said. In addition, veterinary care and product sales grew 7.2%, but other pet services, such as grooming, boarding, pet-sitting and dog-walking, plummeted in sales due to most pet owners staying home and grooming salons having to close during the pandemic. That sector declined by US2.2 billion, or 21.4%.

“We really had a pretty remarkable year, even with those services being down substantially,” King said.

Continued healthy growth estimated for 2021

APPA expects this general resilience and growth to continue in 2021, projecting above-average increases again for pet food and pet supplies at 5% and 6%, respectively. The growth for pet food would result in an estimated US$44.1 billion in sales for 2021.

While veterinary care and product sales are estimated to grow closer to an average rate of 3%, APPA projects other pet services to bounce back in 2021 with a strong 20% gain, nearly making up the 2020 losses. “We do expect a big increase in those other services, to care for all those new pets and as pet owners go back to their offices, kids go back to school and people start to travel again; places like pet boarding and daycare will rebound from what was a pretty dismal 2020 for them,” King said.  

Overall, APPA estimates the total U.S. pet care industry to rise 5.8% in 2021, reaching US$109.6 billion. “This is still well above historical averages,” King said. “I think the best way to sum things up is that it’s a great time to be in the pet care community.”

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