US pet food, treat sales hit record US$50 billion in 2021

This is the second consecutive record-setting year for the industry, with continued growth expected for 2022.

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Adapted from a press release:

American Pet Products Association (APPA) analysts estimated that the United States pet industry reached US$123.6 billion in sales in 2021, the highest level recorded. This is the second consecutive record-setting year for the industry, with continued growth expected for 2022. In 2021, the U.S. pet food industry grew 13.5% year-over-year. Pet owners spent US$50 billion on pet food and treats, the largest segment of the overall industry, growing 13.6% over 2020 figures.

“The numbers don’t lie: The pet industry has shown itself to be incredibly strong and resilient with a record-breaking two years,” APPA Senior Vice President of Member Relations and Business Development Anne Ferrante said in a press release. “We expect continued growth as we look toward the remainder of 2022, although we anticipate it may be at a more moderate pace given the impact of volatile factors like inflation, supply chain issues and global relations.”

State of the Industry data for 2021 revealed increases in every spend category. 

  • At 17.8%, supplies, live animals and OTC meds saw the biggest increase, with a total spend of US$29.8 billion
  • Vet care and product sales landed as the second highest spend category at US$34.3 billion, an 8.9% increase
  • Other services (including grooming, dog walking and boarding) totaled US$9.5 billion spent, a 17.3% increase 

Since 1988, APPA has published the biennial APPA National Pet Owners Survey, the premier resource of its kind, providing in-depth data on consumer behavior, product and service consumption, and lifestyle and media habits. The Association also publishes the APPA Generational Report, which examines pet ownership by generation. More recently, APPA conducted the COVID-19 Pulse Study, a survey of pet owners’ buying habits during the pandemic.

More APPA survey data news

Internet beats TV for new pet food awareness 2018-2020

Two previously dominant sources for pet owners’ discovery of new products declined dramatically during the pandemic. The internet seems to have risen in their place. From 2018 to 2020, both television and physical retail outlets declined as means by which pet owners found new pet foods, treats and other products. At Global Pet Expo, Julie Springer, APPA market analyst, discussed the APPA survey results that revealed the changing channels for new pet food product discovery.

Millennial pet ownership generation gap grew 2018-2020

Between 2018 and 2020, APPA survey data suggests that millennials continued to increase their share of pet ownership, as the gap between older and younger generations grew. Millennials now make up 32% of all U.S. pet owners, while baby boomers have declined to 27% of the total. In 2018, millennials were still the largest group at 31%, but baby boomers made up 29%, and Gen X accounted for 26%.

Meanwhile, the age group younger than millennials, Generation Z, grew to 14% of the U.S. pet owner population in 2020. Gen X dropped to 24% in that year.

Millennials have grown particularly in cat ownership, increasing from 30% to 34%, while only increasing one percentage point in dog ownership. Millennials also increased significantly in bird ownership, going from 36% in 2018 to 45% in 2020. Nevertheless, dogs are the top choice of pet among millennials. Eighty percent of millennial pet owners have dogs. Dogs also topped pet ownership in the other age groups.

New pets drive average years of ownership down 2018-2020

After the pandemic pet ownership surge, APPA market research suggests that 70% of American households now include a pet of some species, Julie Springer, APPA market analyst said during her presentation at Global Pet Expo. Many of those pet owners may be new to caring for animals, according to insights she shared from APPA’s surveys and reports. Of those in the survey who didn’t own pets currently, 18% had owned a pet in the past, while 12% were classified as non-pet-owners.

In the 2021-2022 APPA National Pet Owners Survey, pet owners in the United States responded that 54% of their household contained dogs. Cats followed, making their homes in 35% of households. U.S. pet owners also kept freshwater fish (9%), birds (8%), small animals (5%), reptiles (4%), saltwater fish (2%) and horses (3%). The survey asked pet owners how long they had owned a pet. The average number of years of pet ownership has declined or remained consistent from 2018 to 2020, she said. A lower average means new pet owners.

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