Make your pet aisle a must visit for cat owners.
How much of your pet aisle focuses on felines? If it isn’t much, you might want to reconsider the amount of shelf space dedicated to cat food.
While 54.4 million U.S. households own a dog, compared with 42.9 million that own a cat, felines come out on top in sheer numbers. According to the 2015 2016 National Pet Owners Survey from the American Pet Products Association (APPA), there are 85.8 million cats and 77.8 million dogs owned in the United States.
The dollar sales that cat food and treats generate prove that feeding those felines can mean big business for manufacturers and retailers.
Sales of cat food and treats in the United States grew from $4.32 billion in 2000 to $6.99 billion in 2014, information from Hamburg, Germany based Statista ( statista.com) shows.
And with pet food accounting for a projected $24 billion of some $62.75 billion that the Greenwich, Conn. based APPA estimates will be spent on pets in the United States this year, understanding what customers want when shopping for their kitty companions is an important step in capturing market share.
“Humanization’ Hits the Cat Category
Just what are cat owners looking for when buying cat food today? Foods similar to what they’re buying for their families, according to Nielsen’s March 2016 report, “The Humanization of Pet Food.”
“In the U.S., 95 percent of pet owners currently consider their pets to be part of the family up seven points from 2007,” Schaumburg, Ill. based Nielsen reports. “This trend correlates with the growth of certain pet food segments, including healthy treats, specialty pet foods and other more premium options. Increasingly, pet owners are moving from expectations of “high quality (for pets)’ to “humanized’; that is, they desire pet food options that address the same health concerns currently influencing human food production, such as unnatural preservatives and genetically modified ingredients and they’re serious about these preferences.”
Chris Achenbach, brand manager for the Rachael Ray Nutrish line of super premium dry and wet cat foods manufactured by Meadville, Pa. based Ainsworth Pet Nutrition, says that’s exactly what the company is seeing.
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“Consumers want a level of quality for their cats that is more in line with the food that they feed to the rest of their family,” observes Achenbach. “As a result, the super premium, natural segment is the fastest growing segment in cat food, and less premium segments where animal byproducts and filler ingredients are much more prevalent are consistently losing share.”
Grain free products, he notes, are particularly popular with today’s cat owners.
“A portion of this strong super premium growth is being driven by grain free products, as a growing number of cat parents view these as more “ultra premium’ recipes that deliver premium protein while excluding all grains and glutens, which can be an issue for some cats,” says Achenbach.