Among the changes produced by the pandemic, pet ownership and purchasing behaviors are among those that industry experts believe have been permanently altered. Early lockdowns inspired homebound individuals and families to adopt dogs, cats, and other animals for companionship, prompting companies catering to this market to expand product lines and purchasing formats to meet demand. Industry analysis projected dog and cat food sales alone to reach $37.1 billion in 2021, up 6.4% from the year before.
Of course, the production and distribution of pet food have also seen challenges as a result of the pandemic. These include issues in transportation and supply chain infrastructure that made it difficult for manufacturers to source ingredients both domestically and internationally, rising prices for key ingredients, and extended lead times to obtain new equipment. These factors, however, do not seem to have stemmed the growth of the sector. Here are some of the key trends influencing changes in pet food today.
Premium Pet Foods: The growing market for value-added pet food products has spurred manufacturers to introduce new product lines catering to pet owners’ desire to provide companion animals with improved nutrition. In March, Blue Buffalo announced the introduction of BLUE Tastefuls cat food, which replaces their Healthy Gourmet products, citing increased demand for foods that promote health goals such as overall wellness and hydration.
Similarly, Target debuted a private-label pet nutrition brand, Kindfull, in stores in August. Their offerings for dogs and cats reflect industry-wide trends such as offering premium nutrition at affordable prices, incorporating higher-end ingredients such as pasture-raised beef and wild-caught fish, and using recyclable packaging for some products. Walmart also expanded its private-label Pure Balance brand with several veterinarian-formulated pet food products for cats and dogs.
In addition, celebrity chef Bobby Flay introduced his own line of cat food, “Made by Nacho,” inspired by his Maine Coon cat. The line is focused on providing palatable, well-balanced, high-quality nutrition for cats, and was created by the chef together with a doctor of veterinary medicine.
Mergers and acquisitions: More than one pet food brand has come under new ownership in the last year. General Mills acquired Tyson Foods’ pet products business for $1.2 billion, a deal that included their manufacturing facility in Independence, Iowa. The company reported that the brands had already begun to pay off in terms of sales as of the second quarter of the year.
Investment firm Kinderhook Industries acquired Primal Pet Foods, a company producing pet food, treats, and supplements in Fairfield, California. As the owner of Prairie Dog Pet Products, Himalayan, and Holistic Hound, the firm plans to consolidate all four brands under a new name, Primal Pet Group.
E-commerce growth: According to market research firm Packaged Facts, online pet product sales now make up 30% of the total market. In 2015, online sales accounted for only 8% of purchases, marking a dramatic shift in purchasing behavior. Among the reasons cited for this change were changes in customer preference and the onset of the pandemic. While purely online platforms tended to dominate the market, brick-and-mortar retailers are increasingly adding robust online ordering capabilities to compete in this space.
Reliable 3PL for Pet Food
As in any competitive marketing, finding the right 3PL partner is vital for the success of businesses catering to pet owners. The premium pet foods that are increasingly in demand must be properly warehoused and handled as well as being delivered on time to ensure that your customers have all their expectations of quality and service met every time.
As a leading dry food-grade 3PL provider, Westset Logistics is your one-stop solution for quality service and peace of mind. Our expertise in handling products requiring temperature control, care in handling, and adherence to best-by dates for distribution helps us provide individualized support for companies shipping pet food products. Our cloud-based Warehouse Management System gives you full visibility into inventory, order processing, and shipment tracking, while our dedicated account representatives maintain a high standard of customer care and communication. We work with our clients to craft logistics solutions customized to support their business goals. To find out more about our services, contact us here.