The FINANCIAL -- Pet owners who will splurge to give their four-legged friends the freshest, healthiest food continue to spur sales growth at pet specialty retail outlets. According to new data from GfK’s point-of-sale panel in the US, freeze-dried SKUs have shown the strongest sales growth at pet retail – but grain-free and other established categories remain “most valuable players” in this $7.6 billion market.
GfK’s Maria Lange (Business Group Director, POS Tracking) shared the results in a presentation yesterday at the SuperZoo conference in Las Vegas. GfK’s panel represents over 11,000 US pet stores, from neighborhood shops to superstores, according to GFK.
In just the past year (June 2015 to May 2015), pet specialty retail sales of freeze-dried dog and cat food have jumped 64%, from $25 million to $40 million. (These figures do not include pet food products that combine kibble with freeze-dried pieces.)
Grain-free also remains a powerhouse in terms of sales growth, posting a year-over-year rise of 25% and now accounting for $2.4 billion annually (dog and cat food only) at pet specialty. Over the last 12 months, there have been more than 1,500 new grain-free products for cats introduced in the US for cats and dogs, compared to 1,280 the year before.
The natural category – which includes most grain-free, freeze-dried, and similar SKUs – continues to dominate the pet specialty market, accounting for $5.2 billion (as of May 15) in sales out of a total of $7.6 billion in total pet retail food sales. But non-natural still represents the remaining $2.4 billion in cat and dog food sales at pet specialty – roughly one-third of the market.
Other food categories (cat and dog only) posting notable growth at pet specialty retail include:
“Part freeze-dried” -- sales surged 83% in May 2015 year over year
Frozen – sales rose 32%, from $52 million to $69 million
Dehydrated – saw 42% growth at the register
“Having a data-driven, nationwide perspective on the pet specialty marketplace is essential for retailers and manufacturers alike,” said Lange. “With a clear view of the market, stores can make smarter stocking and discounting decisions, and manufacturers can design products that truly meet the needs of today’s pets and pet owners. While the natural trend is still driving most pet food growth in the specialty retail channel, stakeholders need to find the right balance between ‘rookie’ categories – like frozen and freeze-dried – and proven ‘stars’.”
GfK’s POS Tracking division uses the world’s largest retail network to track products and deliver market insights based on point-of-sale (POS) data for countries worldwide. The team can look at which channels are popular with retailers and manufacturers and why, as well as which retail trends are affecting the overall market.
SuperZoo, billed as “the national show for pet retailers,” drew almost 23,000 pet industry attendees last year. Companies debuted over 640 new products at SuperZoo 2014, which draws attendees from manufacturers, retailers, distributors, and other pet industry stakeholders.