As a pet owner, the state of the pet food industry might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you serve your beloved pet a portion of their favorite food or when you spoil them with some treats. But as someone who has walked the pet food aisles in the supermarket countless times, you’ve surely noticed that the range of food options has increased considerably in recent years, with plenty of new brands and a wide variety of products addressing all imaginable concerns and nutrition requirements lining the shelves.
There’s a simple explanation for this phenomenon. The pet food industry is growing at a faster rate than ever before, with direct implications on owners’ purchasing behavior and their pets’ diets. Some are a bit overload by this choice overload, while others are quite pleased that they’ve got more options at their disposal. Those who are skeptical will say that not much has changed in this respect.
But if feelings and perceptions are subjective and can implicitly be deceiving, numbers don’t lie. Recent statistics reveal that the global pet food market was estimated at around $112 billion in 2021 and is expected to reach $170 billion by 2030. As specialists in the animal feed industry KSEgroup point out, this growth has also brought on new challenges for animal nutrition manufacturers who are trying to adapt their processes so they can stay ahead of the trends and meet the current demands in the market.
To put things simply, there are plenty of things going on behind the scenes that many consumers are not aware of. So, if you want to learn a bit more about the pet food industry and the forces at play, this article explores the main drivers of growth and their contribution to the ongoing expansion of the sector.
Pet ownership on the rise
The pet population has been steadily increasing over the past few years, with more pets being adopted across the globe. While this trend is particularly noticeable in developed countries, the pet ownership rate is also rising in emerging economies. While it’s difficult to compile all the numbers regarding demographics, it is estimated that there might be over one billion pets in the world. However, we have more specific data about the pet population in the US where over 70% of U.S. households accounting for almost 90 million homes have a pet.
Reports also show that younger adults are behind the increase in pet ownership. Millennials between their early 20s and late 30s make up the biggest percentage of pet owners, regardless of country or region. Gen Zers also seem to follow in their footsteps as the next category that’s most likely to adopt a pet. Looking at the data, it’s quite obvious that pet culture centered around the humanization of animals is slowly but surely taking over the world, and that can only mean one thing: more pets translate into increased demand for specialized food and that brings more money into pet food processing and the animal feed industry as a whole.
The pandemic factor
You might be wondering what the pandemic has to do with the growth of the pet food sector. The link may not be immediately obvious, but according to research, there’s a clear connection between the two. Initially, the health crisis caused supply chain issues that had a negative impact on pet food businesses. However, as the pandemic progressed, pet adoption rates increased, especially in the early months of the lockdown when people were desperately looking for some company to ease their solitude.
The transition to work-from-home or hybrid work models also allowed people to have more time on their hands which enabled them to care for pets. All these transformations led to a growing demand for pet food products which offset the losses that the industry experienced.
Increasing awareness of pets’ nutritional needs
Back in the day, people didn’t pay much attention to their pets’ diets. Dogs and cats were often fed scraps from the table or they were simply left to fend for themselves. That is until our four-legged companions transitioned from being merely household assets to becoming part of the family. But the most important factor that triggered changes in pet owners’ attitudes toward diet choices was scientific research.
We know a lot more now about the nutritional needs of dogs, cats, and other species that are suitable to be companion animals than we did a decade or two ago. There’s an increasing body of studies proving the connection between the foods that animals consume and their well-being, and research in the area continues to provide us with new and interesting insights into the topic. The increasing knowledge of feed ingredients and the nutritional needs of animals has made people a lot more concerned about what they put on their pets’ plates, and consequently more willing to invest larger amounts of money into pet food.
Recent years have seen the emergence of a series of trends that have further fueled the growth of the pet food industry. Pet humanization plays a particularly important role in it. as owners start treating their pets as family members, they’re more inclined to spend money on human-grade meals and products that are suitable for this new status.
Additionally, premiumization which refers to pet owners’ increased interest in purchasing high-quality, nutritious ingredients and customized or personalized pet food products for their companions, as well as the rise of functional foods which address a wide variety of pet health and nutritional concerns, have also brought their contribution to the expansion of the pet food market.
As you can see, there are numerous factors that have led to the rapid growth of the sector and if predictions are correct, we’re going to see a lot more growth in the near future.