Get in-depth with the Top 10 global petfood players

Since 2007, petfood and pet product sales have continued to rise during one of the bleakest global economic climates in decades. Despite the recession and recalls, American Pet Product Association's 2008 research shows pet supply distribution has reached a US$4.2 billion total. Worldwide retail sales of dog and cat food reached nearly US$53 billion in 2008, according to data from Euormonitor International. That's a total growth of 34% from the 2004 amount of US$38.9 billion.

With bold strategies like new products, flashier packaging and exotic ingredients, it's no wonder the industry keeps growing.
With bold strategies like new products, flashier packaging and exotic ingredients, it's no wonder the industry keeps growing.

Since 2007, petfood and pet product sales have continued to rise during one of the bleakest global economic climates in decades. Despite the recession and recalls, American Pet Product Association's 2008 research shows pet supply distribution has reached a US$4.2 billion total. Worldwide retail sales of dog and cat food reached nearly US$53 billion in 2008, according to data from Euormonitor International. That's a total growth of 34% from the 2004 amount of US$38.9 billion.

Although this kind of market expansion is certainly exciting and somewhat unexpected, research firms like Packaged Facts, Mintel and Euromonitor all predict a plateau in growth over the next year, as the world market will either remain sadly sustained or begin to stabilize. In Packaged Facts' report U.S. Pet Market Outlook 2009-2010: Surviving and Thriving in Challenging Economic Times , senior pet market analyst David Lummis says the four areas shaping petfood trends during these uncertain times are: humanization, health/wellness, competition and demographics. Not surprisingly, American and European consumers are monitoring their spending more closely than they have in recent years, yet petfood companies continue an onslaught of new products, flashier packaging and exotic ingredients. With bold strategies like these, it's no wonder the industry manages to thrive, paws and claws holding on tight!

1. Mars Inc. 

World headquarters : McLean, Virginia, USA (Mars Petcare: Franklin, Tennessee, USA)

Approximate 2008 global retail sales : US$13.6 billion
Officers : Luc Mongeau, president, Mars Petcare US; Debra Fair, director of corporate affairs; Kevin Rabinovich, global sustainability director
Top brands:  Pedigree, Cesar, Goodlife Recipe, Nutro, Whiskas, Royal Canin
New products : Cesar Canine Cuisine Bistro Entrees, Cesar Canine Cuisine Softies Treats, Pedigree+ Premium Ground Entrees, Pedigree Good Bites Senior, Whiskas Purrfectly Dry Food, The Goodlife Recipe Wholesome Bites
Websites :,,,,

Mars Petcare, both in the US and internationally, seems to be busting at the seams with growth. Expanding production in countries like Russia and New Zealand, launching several new lines in India and the US, partnering with institutes and promoting research in England – Mars seems to be showing no signs of slowing down. With more new product releases than any other petfood company in both cat and dog food, (see Figure 1) Mars continues to remain a force to be reckoned with, despite ending the production of Sheba cat foods and more recall problems for Nutro in 2009.

This past year, Mars Petcare sampled its new restaurant-style dog food meals, Cesar Canine Cuisine Bistro, with a national campaign at more than 125 dog parks and beaches across the US. The tour, called "Share the Love," promoted the brand and was meant to tap into consumers' needs to vacation while staying close to home and affording small indulgences for their pets. Meanwhile, across the ocean, Pedigree was re-launched in India along with a new range of snacks and treats. The US-based Mars is looking to increase its retail presence in India with hopes of achieving a retail sales value of $US1 billion this year from the product.

In September Mars Petcare US opened a new plant in Fort Smith, Arkansas, USA, that it says is the first sustainable petfood manufacturing facility in the world. In June 2009, Pedigree announced the biggest brand re-launch in the product's history. “Good Honest Food” is a new US$11.5 million marketing campaign aimed at promoting consumer trust in dog food and focuses on new recipes, improved appearance and improved nutritional content of Pedigree's core range.

"Our customers are demanding to know more about the content of the petfood they buy,” said Wayne Tessier, convenience sales director at Mars Petcare. "It’s important to communicate the quality of our products and reassure pet owners that our product is made up of exactly what their pet needs."

The driving force behind all this is a passion for pets, according to president Luc Mongeau. “We’re pet lovers,” he says in a recent Petfood Industry cover profile. “We’re always working feverishly to ensure that we leverage top-notch science and superior nutrition knowledge to deliver amazing products and make the world a better place for pets.” Continue reading about Mars ...

2. Nestlé SA 
World headquarters : Vevey, Switzerland (Nestlé Purina PetCare: St. Louis, Missouri, USA)
Approximate 2008 global retail sales : US$12.8 billion
Officers : W. Patrick McGinnis, CEO, Nestlé Purina PetCare; Terrance Block, president, PetCare NA; Rock Foster, CFO; Mark Burns, vice president and director of manufacturing
Top brands : Purina, Purina One, Alpo, Beneful, Busy Bone, Chew-rific, Deli-Cat, Dog Chow, Fancy Feast, Friskies, Gourmet Gold, Mon Petit, HiPro, Kibbles and Chunks, Kit ‘N Kaboodle, Mighty Dog, Pro Plan, TBonz, Purina Veterinary Diets, Whisker Lickin’s
New products : Chef Michael’s Canine Creations (Dry, In Sauce and Pate), Alpo Chophouse, Mighty Dog Select Menu Seared Filets, Pro Plan Shredded Blend, Purina One Natural Blends Dog and Cat Food
Websites :;

A constant on the top 10 list, Nestlé Purina has continued to pump out new product launches, falling just behind Mars in terms of growth (Figures 1 and 2), and although pets remain the company’s focus, environmental (as well as economic) sustainability has become increasingly important. In May, Nestlé Purina PetCare celebrated the installation of a pilot solar energy array on its plant in Denver, Colorado, USA. The 467-panel, 100-kilowatt photovoltaic system, covering 21,000 square feet of the plant’s roof, made the company the first manufacturer to use renewable energy to produce petfood, according to Nestlé Purina.

“Nestlé Purina has taken many steps toward achieving our goal of becoming the leader in environmental sustainability in the petfood industry,” said Mark Burns, vice president and director of manufacturing. The new system is just the latest effort by the company to increase energy efficiency; it says that between 1998 and 2008, it reduced energy usage at its nine dry petfood plants by about 20% per ton of product produced. Next up are solar arrays for two other Nestlé Purina plants—in Flagstaff, Arizona, and Maricopa, California—one of which will be twice as large as the system in Denver.

While going green in their facilities, Nestlé pet products continue to bring in the green as well. Nestlé’s recent sales of pet care products under the Purina name, according to the most recent quarter’s reports, rose at more than double the rate of food and beverage sales for the rest of the parent company. The company's pet care sales have increased by 8.8% this year, compared to food and beverages growth at 3.5%. Nestlé also plans to bring new petfood plants to Russia and Thailand to bolster international profits.

3. Colgate-Palmolive 
World headquarters : New York, New York, USA (Hill’s Pet Nutrition: Topeka, Kansas, USA)
Approximate 2008 global retail sales : US$3.3 billion
Officers : Neil Thompson, Hill’s Pet Nutrition president and CEO; Janet Donlin, Chief Veterinary Business Channel
Top brands : Hill’s Science Diet, Hill’s Prescription Diet
New products : Hill’s Science Diet Culinary Creations Cat Food, Hill’s Science Diet High Energy, Science Diet Indoor Cat, Hill’s Science Diet Lamb Meal & Rice Adult Dog, Nature’s Best Dog and Cat
Websites :;;

Hill's Pet Nutrition barely held on to its spot above P&G Pet Care in total global retail sales, according to Euromonitor, with US$3.3 billion (see Figure 2). Hill's continues to measure its success by building and strengthening relationships in the veterinary profession, while focusing on continuous innovations in health, wellness and therapeutic petfood nutrition. Just this year, Neil Thompson, who took the position of president and CEO of Hill’s Pet Nutrition after Robert Wheeler retired, was elected secretary of the Pet Food Institute, further solidifying the company’s innovation and staying power in the industry.

Holding the third and fourth position in new product launches for cats and dogs, respectively, Hill's continues to expand its core brands while improving the research being conducted on nutrition for pets. This year Hill’s has announced scholarship programs for veterinarians, dental contest and nutrition challenge winners, and partnered with the American Veterinary Medical Association to prevent and curb pet obesity.

Staying in touch with consumers also remains high on Hill’s list of important and ongoing goals. Earlier this year, the company announced a Culinary Creations Creative Presentation and Sweepstakes contest, inviting US residents to submit their ideas for new petfoods.



World headquarters: Cincinnati, Ohio, USA (P&G Pet Care: Dayton, Ohio, USA)
Approximate 2008 global retail sales: US$3.27 billion
Officers: A.G. Lafley, CEO and chairman
Top brands: Eukanuba, Iams
New products: Eukanuba and Iams newly formulated petfoods with prebiotics, Eukanuba Adult Sensitive Stomach Cat Formula, Eukanuba Healthy Extras Dog Biscuits, Eukanuba Custom Care, Iams Savory Sauce for Puppies, Iams Savory Sauce Active Maturity

Continued speculation over whether Procter & Gamble will sell its petfood brands may make shareholders nervous, but P&G Pet Care remains steady on this year's top 10 list, nipping, once again, at Colgate-Palmolive's heels (or should I say, tails). P&G Petcare managed a modest amount of growth, with US$$3.27 billion in retail sales in 2008, with a strong showing in new product launches in cat food (Figure 1), but falling behind relative newer and smaller pups like Nutriara Alimentos, Pets at Home and Nylabone in new dog food SKUs.

Iams Eukanuba's entries in the new petfood segment include Eukanuba Naturally Wild dog foods and the inclusion of prebiotics in all of its improved formulations. Procter & Gamble, the company's parent, is famous for being a highly skilled, careful marketer--so you can bet that a lot of market research went into these ideas. P&G Pet Care has introduced prebiotic petfood formulas in both its Iams and Eukanuba brands to help maintain pets' gastrointestinal health. Featuring the prebiotic FOS (fructooligosaccharides), these new formulas stimulate the balance of gut microflora (species of good bacteria) which in turn promotes a stronger immune system to help fight disease, according to P&G.

"There has been an explosion of new prebiotic and probiotic products in human nutrition and … consumers are embracing these products to help promote their own digestive and overall health," said Dr. Sherry Sanderson, animal nutrition expert and associate professor at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine. Eukanuba, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, recently showed off its prebiotic line of petfoods at the 2009 Meet The Breeds Convention at the Jacob Javits Center in New York, USA. The food is good for both dogs and cats, and is not breed specific.

5. Del Monte Foods 
World headquarters: San Francisco, California, USA
Approximate 2008 global retail sales: US$1.78 billion
Officers: Richard G. Wolford, chairman, president and CEO; Jeff Watters, Del Monte Pet Products senior VP
Top brands: Meow Mix, Kibbles n' Bits, 9Lives, Milk-Bone, Pup-Peroni, Pounce, Gravy Train, Jerky Treats, Canine Carry Outs, Snausages, Nature's Recipe (Cat and Dog), Meaty Bone
New products: Snausages Breakfast Bites, Milk-Bone Essentials Plus Biscuits and Treats, Nature's Recipe Farm Stand Selects Wet Food, Nature's Recipe Healthy Treats, Meaty Bone Chew-lotta treats, Kibbles n' Bits Wholesome Medley, Pounce Lickittys Treats, Pup-Peroni Ribs Treats

Del Monte, holding strong in the fifth position with a modest increase of US$1.78 billion in sales, has remained resilient and innovative, developing the newest product in its Snausages line, Breakfast Bites, using input from a social network of dog owners it formed. Del Monte developed its new product in just six weeks with the guidance of the exclusively formed group of pet consumers. The company focused on a core group of pet-obsessed consumers who, when asked what their dogs would like to have for breakfast, overwhelmingly answered, "Bacon and eggs." Culling information from the group also told Del Monte these consumers were interested in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in petfoods and treats. Six weeks later, the bacon and egg-shaped Breakfast Bites were created, solely off of customer feedback from the group.

Del Monte's petfood division also closed strongly in the last 2009 quarter reported (as of press time), with stocks at US$11.55 per share, and analysts mark the company as a "strong buy." In September 2009, the company reported first-quarter sales jumped more than 20% to US$412.3 million, from US$342.7 million in 2008. In response to generally strong industry performance, analysts point to stable pet product consumer habits to explain the strong stock performances.

Del Monte also managed 24 new SKUs in the dog food category with the help of product launches from Snausages, Milk-Bone and Nature's Recipe (see Figure 1). Del Monte was the only US-based company on our list of companies who experienced the highest percentage of growth, with 71% from 2003-2008 (see Figure 3).

 6. Agrolimen SA 
World headquarters: Sant Cugat del Vallés, Spain (main plants/facilities: El Monjos, Spain; La Chapelle Vendomôise and Moulins, France)
Approximate 2008 global retail sales: US$0.72 billion
Officers: Mario Franques, markets managing director; Joan Sanahujes, VP marketing; Franc Andreu, operations managing director; Frances Blanch, VP R&D
Top brands: Affinity, Ultima, Brekkies, Brekkies Excel, Advance, Advance Veterinary Diets, Premium Dog, Rubadub (treats)
New products: Brekkies Excel Delice, Brekkies Excel Cat Rolls

Affinity says it is committed to the following values: imagination, innovation, flexibility and a scientific, systematic approach. Besides expanding distribution in Europe, Affinity's growth strategy is based on new product development and strong promotion efforts, according to markets managing director, Mario Franques. "We have introduced nine new varieties for cats and four for dogs in different European countries in the last 12 months," he says, in a 2008 Petfood Industry interview. "Our keys to growth are that we have new and innovative products, and that we are focusing our efforts in geographical areas in Europe where dry products are growing the most." The company is already the leader in Spain in total market and dry petfood with shares above 40% and is making considerable gains in countries like France, Germany and Italy.

Figure 4: Market size according to retail value

Affinity was established in 1963 as a joint venture 50% owned by Ralston Purina Co. and 50% by Agrolimen, with the aim of marketing agricultural products. In 1976, it launched its first dog food, and by May 1996 it was 100% dedicated to the pet food business. Affinity is now the third biggest European producer of dry petfood. Continue reading about Affinity ...

7. Uni-Charm Corp. 
World headquarters: Tokyo, Japan
Approximate 2008 global retail sales: US$0.37 billion
Officers: Toshio Takahara, chairman; Gumpei Futagami, president/CEO
Top brands: Aiken Genki, Neko Genki, Gaines
New products: Silver Dish-Yummy, Low Calorie for dogs and cats, Aiken Genki Best Balance, Silver Spoon Premium Gourmet

According to December 2009 reports from the Research Institute Inc., investors should favor shares of Unicharm Petcare Corp., Japan's largest maker of pet products, as the country's aging population turns to dogs and cats for companionship. Sales of the Tokyo-based company's dog and cat food will benefit from the burgeoning industry, said Kazuaki Hashiguchi, an analyst at Ichiyoshi Research. Unicharm shares climbed 17% in the last six months of 2009 and the pet company's shares were trading at 5.2 times book value during that time period.

Dog and cat ownership climbed 11% between 2004 and 2008, according to Japan Pet Food Association. Unicharm Petcare has said it plans to focus on selling food for dogs and cats aged 13 years and older, an extremely well-thought out and deliberate marketing move by the company, Hashiguchi said.

"The company is adapting well to the changing needs of pet owners, like products for aging or obese pets," said Hashiguchi. "It's focusing on strengthening certain areas that are in demand, maximizing the profitability." Continue reading about Unicharm ...

8. Nutriara Alimentos Ltda.  
World headquarters: Arapongas, Paraná State, Brazil
Approximate 2008 global retail sales: US$0.34 billion
Top brands: Foster, Freddy's, Bybos, Dog Show, Blog Dog, Dog Friends, Tommy, Fulldog, Floop, Dunga, Ringo, Pitoko Mix, Pitty, Bidu, Street Dog, Pitukão Pitukinha, Gatto, Pitukats, Mingau, Bancook, Show Dog
New products: Blog Dog Al Dente, Tommy Seleta Mix, Pitukats Snake Cat Food

Nutriara Alimentos Ltda. remains in the eighth spot on our list, capitalizing on the booming Brazilian petfood market. Countries like Brazil and Russia, already on their way to joining the Top 10 largest petfood markets, demonstrate how filling the gap between pets owned and prepared petfoods fed leads to growing sales. In Brazil, consumption of prepared petfoods surpassed 40% in 2008, Euromonitor says, an increase of nearly 20 percentage points from 1998. Nutria topped the list in overall growth from 2003-2008.

Figure 5: Market size according to retail volume

With an almost overwhelming range of products for both cats and dogs--many of which are top sellers not only in Brazil but in other South American markets including Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Chile--Nutriara continues to strive to offer pet products for animals of all ages, sizes and special health needs. Many products are bestsellers, thanks to their quality and acceptance and they can be found in every region of Brazil. The company was on both the cat and dog food new product launch top 10 lists, according to Euromonitor. The company has also recently incorporated the pet units from Cargil Foods. For more on the Brazilian petfood market ...

9. Total Alimentos SA 
World headquarters: Três Corações, Brazil
Approximate 2008 global retail sales: US$0.32 billion
Officers: Antônio Teixeira Miranda Neto, president; Paulo Tavares, financial director; Anderson Duarte, technical director
Top brands: Família Max, Big Boss, Lider, K&S, Equilíbrio, Naturalis, Natural treats
New products: Naturalis Dry Dog Food for Small Breed Dogs, K&S Oral Care, Equilíbrio Treats Especial

Total Alimentos has ranked as the ninth largest petfood company in the world the past three years, having experienced the second fastest rate of growth from 2003-2008 (Figure 3). That growth has shown no signs of slowing down, as Total and Nutriara battle it out over the booming Brazilian market. The company keeps up the good fight by launching dozens of new products, expanding its global distribution and reaching new heights of quality and safety. Besides being one of the largest petfood producers selling to the Brazil market, Total exports its cat and dog foods to 33 countries.

To keep quality and service high, Total maintains a large sales force selling directly to 12,500 pet store and other retail accounts. As the company has expanded globally, it has opened sales branches in China, US and Europe. Today, petfood comprises 70% of the company's sales. Company president Miranda estimates the Total portfolio encompasses 125 product lines or about 850 stock keeping units (SKUs). All of these products represent Total's recent main goals of focusing on premium and superpremium products and continuing to develop labor-intensive products, especially treats. To continue reading about Total ...

10. Nisshin Seifun Group 
World headquarters: Tokyo, Japan
Approximate 2008 global retail sales: US$0.23 billion
Officers: Osamu Shoda, chairman; Hiroshi Hasegawa, president
Top brands: Run, Carat, Lovely

Nisshin Flour Milling Co. Ltd., which reorganized into the Japanese holding company Nisshin Seifun Group in 2001, owns subsidiary Nisshin Petfood Inc., which has rounded out the top 10 companies since 2007, according to Euromonitor data. Under its motto, "For a long and healthy life for your pet," Nisshin Petfood Inc. provides a product lineup that meets a wide variety of needs. The company provides a pet advice and consultation service, website and various other forms of communication to continuously gather up-to-the-minute feedback from pet owners concerning their problems and needs. This feedback is immediately forwarded to product development and product quality personnel.

According to Figure 1, Nisshin has already introduced 12 new cat food product SKUs this past year, many of which are targeting elderly and aging pets. The lineup, which includes the dog food brand Run and cat food brand Carat, has found high acceptance among Japanese dog and cat owners. The Lovely brand has also been developed for small pets.

Making milestones

To read about petfood companies celebrating milestones this year, click here.

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