February 2018 Pet Product News International 25
BY DAVID LUMMIS
The U.S. pet food market hit a five- year high in 2017 in percentage growth and dollar sales, climbing
6 percent to top $26 billion at retail (
figures include dog and cat food, but not
non-dog/cat food or dog/cat treats).
For the market, as a whole, this is very good news, but growth has been far from even across retail sectors.
In mass and pet specialty channels, sales growth was considerably less, with multiple sources indicating
upticks in the 1 percent range. This means most of the increase is coming from other channels, with internet
sellers, in particular, driving incremental growth even as they peel away share from brick-and-mortars.
Nor has market growth been even across product types, with certain segments faring better than others as
the market continues to mature and evolve.
As of October 2017, the product claims resonating the most among dog and cat food purchasers were
made in the USA, grain free, 100 percent natural (other than organic), limited ingredient and organic. Taken
together, these trends indicate that pet owners continue to demonstrate high interest in pet foods that are
natural and available online.
In the vast majority of cases, online purchasing also means doorstep delivery, which, for my money, is
the purchasing factor to watch during 2018 and beyond—not just for pet food, but for all kinds of household
staples. With many online sellers eliminating delivery charges for orders of, say, $50 or more, more pet owners
are opting for subscription-based deliveries of pet supplies, which can be especially appealing for heavy items
such as big bags of pet food. This boomer just did, and my only question—and that of my achy shoulder,
already improving—is what took me so long.
I’m not alone. During the past 12 months, 21 percent of dog owners in the 55-64 age bracket purchased
pet food online for home delivery, and 18 percent of cat owners did so, meaning my age cohort is leading the
pack in this area, outpacing even millennials. The online/home delivery numbers among senior dog and cat
owners (age 65-plus) are also nothing to sneeze at, at 14 percent and 11 percent, respectively, and can only
be expected to grow as more boomers and seniors opt to eliminate pointless wear and tear on their bodies.
The good news for brick-and-mortars is that an overwhelming majority of Americans still purchase pet
food in stores—88 percent of dog owners and 93 percent of cat owners in the past 12 months. In addition,
76 percent of dog owners and 81 percent of cat owners purchase all of their dog/cat food in a physical store
without pre-ordering. More good news is a solid outlook for pet food overall, with annual sales gains expected to average 4 percent annually through 2022. That said, it’s no coincidence that more and more brick-and-mortar retailers are exploring, if not already offering, home delivery. Nor is it outrageous to expect pet
food home delivery—whether initiated online, via app, over the phone or in-store—to grow exponentially
during the same timeframe.
David Lummis is the lead pet-market analyst for Packaged Facts, a division of MarketResearch.com.
The data cited above is drawn primarily from Packaged Facts’ new report, Pet Food in the U.S.,
13th Edition (available at packagedfacts.com).
Home Pet Food
Dog or Cat Owners Purchasing Pet Food Through Website
for Home Delivery in Past 12 Months: By Age
DOG OWNERS 17% 10% 19% 18% 17% 21% 14%
CAT OWNERS 14% 9% 17% 15% 13% 18% 11%
Source: Packaged Facts National Pet Owner Survey, September/October2017