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Cats worldwide are enjoying better food and longer lives, multiple studies show. If you are the owner of a feline, you are helping to drive that trend. By the year 2017, demand for pet food is expected to boost sales to $95.7 billion across the globe, according to a new report by Global Industry Analysts Inc. (GIA).
This report and others help reveal pet food trends in other countries. Here’s a look at what is happening now in some key locations:
Down Under, the number of dogs and cats per household is actually declining a bit, suggests industry analysis firm IBISWorld. Some of that is due to increasing urbanization, since farmers tend to care for more animals in general. Pet food and other product sales are booming, though, just as they are in many other countries. The reason: increasingly spoiled pooches and kitties. “Though declining in number, the average pet now enjoys better food, more treats and even inclusion in sophisticated human products like health insurance,” says IBISWorld analyst Craig Shulman.
Online sales of pet food are going up in Australia, with the Internet market “in a growth phase, brought on by expansion of products and services.” Over the past five years in Oz, online sales of cat food and other pet products have doubled. Shulman and his team credit this to improved technology and infrastructure supporting such purchases.
GIA concludes that the European pet food market is now primarily influenced by four factors: health-oriented products, foods for cats at different life stages, breed-specific diets, and treats. Health concerns are paramount, though.
Cat ownership is on the rise in the United Kingdom, says Lee Linthicum, head of food research at Euromonitor International, a market analysis firm. While Brits clearly love their cats, the tough economy is taking a toll on families, requiring them to work more hours while still limiting their budgets. “It burdens those owners that want to offer the best for their pet but cannot afford to do so.” Nevertheless, people are working hard in an effort to feed their cats the best and healthiest foods possible.
This large, widespread region is enjoying the fastest-growing market for pet foods. GIA found that in Vietnam, India and China, product pricing and value for money are extremely important to cat owners.
Japan is somewhat similar to Australia. As for that nation, many families in Japan own older pets, so people are interested in buying new products appropriate for aging and elderly kitties. That’s a good sign, further supporting that cats are living to advanced ages.
In Singapore, South Korea and Japan, four factors are fueling pet food sales:
2. Shorter product lifecycles (customers want to feed the freshest possible foods to their pets)
3. Healthier products
In most places around the world, the following seem to hold true, based on the GIA findings:
· Dog food sales are growing at a faster pace than cat food sales, but food sales for felines remain strong.
· People are mostly buying their pet food at retail grocery chains, at pet superstores and on the Internet.
· There are good signs that the economy is now post-recession, so leading companies are gearing up with new food product launches.
“The pet food industry continues to grow and expand,” says Stephen Zawistowski, science advisor for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). “Even during the toughest economic times, owners want the best for their pets.”
Duane Ekedahl, president of the Pet Food Institute in Washington, D.C., agrees. “Pets have become like every other member of the family, and this is increasingly reflected in how people feed their animals.”“Pet foods are looking more like people food,” adds Ekedahl. “Consumers are into organic, natural foods now, and that’s what you’re seeing on pet food shelves. The industry has really come a long way in the past 10 years in meeting this growing interest.”
Jennifer Viegas is the managing editor of The Daily Cat. She is a journalist for Discovery News, the news service for the Discovery Channel, and has written more than 20 books on animals, health and other science-related topics.