End of 2020 gathers uncertainty in pet food industry

In Petfood Industry's third-quarter Confidence Index Survey, the industry expressed concerns with how continuing instabilities from COVID-19 will affect the longer view.

(DrAfter123 | iStockPhoto.com)
(DrAfter123 | iStockPhoto.com)

At the beginning of 2020, Petfood Industry magazine partnered with Communications for Research Inc. and began researching the overall business conditions within the pet food industry by gathering the reported confidence levels of pet food company business executives across various markets each quarter.

From confident to less confident

In February 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the confidence level of the industry was extremely high — nearly 60% of executives reported expecting better business conditions in six months and close top 90% said they thought there would be increased opportunities for growth and expansion.

Six months later in July 2020, after experiencing the business and day-to-day effects of the pandemic, that confidence level in the future fell dramatically. While reports showed increases in e-commerce and retail sales, most pet food executives still reported they were expecting both business conditions to decline and to have less growth and fewer opportunities in the future.

Uncertainty continues

From September to October 2020 we collected more responses and the uncertainty of the future was again the trending topic. COVID-19 has changed our everyday lives and it appears pets have become a bigger asset to some. E-commerce, export opportunities and pet ownership were all expected to increase, while overall business conditions seemed to be at about average during this busy time of year. Quite a few respondents also thought positively about growth and expansion.

One executive said, “Hopefully COVID-19 restrictions will begin to lift, and sales reps will start to be able to travel and exports will become quicker.”

Partnering with retailers and relying on promotions in store seemed to be trending for announcing new product launches in the absence of major pet trade shows. When asked about product development, more companies reported either not changing their 2020 plans (after March or when the pandemic hit) or increasing their development. Few said they changed course.

As 2020 ends and some remain hopeful for opportunity, others seem more pessimistic about the future overall and have concerns of the suffering economy causing a plateau or decreases in profit.

“The greatest Depression of our lifetime will hit awfully hard,” said one executive.

The lingering uncertainty of COVID-19 and recent political unrest seem to be causes of concern for some. Concerns over future supply chain shortages, labor cost increases, lack of consumer spending and delays in shipments were all reported in the September–October survey.


Sign up and be part of our 2021 efforts

We are continuously in communication with executives to gather opinions on business conditions in the pet food industry as well as to research relevant topics and trends. The next Petfood Industry Confidence Index report is expected to be published in the March 2021 issue of Petfood Industry magazine.

We’re looking to expand our respondents to executives in various roles across all segments within the pet food industry, including but not limited to:

  • food/treat manufacturer
  • brand owner/marketer
  • distributor/broker
  • retailer (online, grocery, chain retailers)
  • private label manufacturer
  • co-packer
  • veterinary practice
  • university, government, industry association
  • consulting — veterinary, nutrition, other
  • import/export
  • finance/venture capital
  • suppliers

Use the QR code or the link below to sign up to be a part of the next confidence survey.



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