Feeding Aquatic Appetites
The aquatics hobby is growing, and with it flake, pellet and frozen food sales.
BY ETHAN D. MIZER
As advancements are being made in the aquarium hobby, quality fish foods coupled with a varied assortment of op- tions are driving repeat sales for pet specialty retailers, industry experts report.
“The hobby’s in a better spot than it’s ever been before,” said
Asher Getzoff, inventory product specialist for Wet Spot Tropical
Fish in Portland, Ore. “Realistically, our knowledge and available
This growth is helping to fuel fish food sales.
“Across the board, the overall trend in sales of all foods is in-
creasing for us,” said Patrick Donston, owner of Absolutely Fish in
Clifton, N.J. “It goes without saying that with more fish tanks and
aquariums in houses, more people need food.”
Customers increasingly are seeking variety in retail offerings, as
well, which is helping to spark sales.
“Sales are strong and growing,” said Kelly J. Randall, marketing
director of Omega Sea in Painesville, Ohio. “Hobbyists who feed
flakes are recognizing the benefits of higher-quality ingredients. …
I also think hobbyists are starting to feed a larger variety for foods,
Health-focused fish keepers are taking more care when choosing
foods for their fish, experts report.
“We live in a very health-conscientious world now in terms of
what people are feeding themselves, as well as their dogs and cats,”
Getzoff said. “It makes sense that people would start paying more
attention to what’s going on with their fish, too.”
In fact, customers are increasingly seeking natural foods made
with quality ingredients that not only preserve fish health, but also
help maintain overall aquarium environment quality.
“The trends we are seeing in foods are all about the ingredients,”
Yet while many aquatics customers are well educated on the
hobby, specialty retailers continue to focus on offering customers
effective information to help them succeed.
“We want to make sure that these animals go beyond just surviv-
ing and flourish,” said Rick Preuss, owner of Preuss Pets in Lansing,
Mich. “A majority of customers will simply accept what we put in
their hand, but we’re only going to put in their hand what we think
is best for their fish.”
Perhaps more so than in other segments of pet retail, customers
trust local fish store employees’ recommendations, retailers reported.
“Honestly, consumers are looking for a food to keep their fish
healthy,” Donston said. “It’s the shop’s job or the manager’s job to
bring the staff up-to-date on the benefits of the specialty flakes and
pellets, because they’ll pass that knowledge on to the consumer. If
you can get that conversation opened up, sales happen.”
Price point isn’t as big an issue, Donston added.
“I don’t worry about the price point,” he said. “I try to get the
margin I want, and I’ve learned over the years that it’s shocking
what people will pay. If the cost to me is $5, I have to get my proper
margin. You have to get at least double the markup on fish foods.
That’s a money maker.”
Overall, sales are strong, and dry options such as flake and pellet
foods still dominate.
“Dry food sales are probably close to 80 percent of food sales,
with a good 50 percent being flakes and probably 30 percent being
pellets,” Preuss said. “We sell a lot of flake.”
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