Pet food market’s 2022: Mix of good news, bad news

Pet food is ending 2022 with the bad news of ongoing rising inflation and other issues, but topped by the good news that the market is still growing.

Dog travel by car. Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever enjoying road trip.
Dog travel by car. Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever enjoying road trip.
Looking back, 2022 has been a mix of good and bad news for pet food. | Jaromir Chalabala I

Everyone knows change is constant, yet for the last several years, it has come at a dizzying, disruptive pace. After the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and its many horrors in 2020, 2021 seemed to just build on that angst and chaos. Due to the resulting economic and supply chain issues, exacerbated by a significant war, 2022 hasn’t been much better.

Yet, even dark times have silver linings, and it pays to spotlight them. For pet food, 2022 has definitely been a mixed bag of good news and bad news.

First the bad (so we can end on a positive note!): All the supply chain disruptions, transportation issues, labor shortages, war and other factors have fueled inflation to uncomfortable levels. In the U.S., pet food inflation reached 14% in September 2022, surpassing that of the overall economy at 8.2% and of human food at 13%. Other markets around the world have not fared much better, with pet food inflation figures ranging from 8.7% in Mexico to 9.5% in Canada to double digits for pet care in Australia (11.3%), the European Union (12.2%) and U.K. (13.4).

This situation has put quite the squeeze on pet owners as they deal with rising food prices for all members of their families: human, furry, feathered or scaled. Some have traded down to lower-priced brands or smaller packages. Worth watching: surrenders of pets, especially ones adopted during the pandemic.

But despite the stiff headwinds, the pet food market remains resilient, and that’s the good news for 2022 and beyond. The supply chain situation may be starting to improve, as backlogs in U.S. ports are declining along with container prices. Meanwhile, pet food revenues are rising—yes, partially because of the higher prices, but also because pet ownership has increased in many areas and, perhaps most importantly, because pets have become firmly established as full-fledged family members.

That’s not something the pet food industry can afford to take for granted; it’s wise to consider that there is likely a limit to how much some owners are able and willing to pay for their pets’ food. But thanks to their deep devotion to and love for their pets, most will do anything to keep them and feed them as well as they can. Good news indeed to end the year.

Pet food inflation data


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