RTE 1.5 million households are relying on food from pet food brands.
How does the industry compare?
It’s a difficult task.
The latest figures from the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs show that food companies accounted for only 14.7% of all the food consumed in UK households in 2017.
They’re not the only ones to struggle.
In 2015, the European Commission’s Food Safety Authority recommended that the industry “should adopt a strategy for improving its food quality and sustainability.”
The UK’s leading food and pet food companies responded with a statement that “they will not continue to supply pet food in the UK until a change in policy is implemented that is in the public interest and the best interests of the pet and the public.”
As a result, food brands such as PetSmart, Kellogg’s and Nestle have all scaled back their UK sales in recent years.
In 2017, PetSmart sold only 0.8% of its UK pet food sales, while Nestle saw its UK sales fall from 6.9% to 5.9%.
But there’s hope.
The pet food industry has a long history of success.
According to research by the Petfood Institute, the pet food business grew at a healthy rate of 4.2% in the decade from 2006 to 2019.
The Petfood Industry Association is a lobby group that represents pet food and food suppliers.
The industry’s growing influence is “one of the key factors behind the steady growth of the industry in the years following the financial crisis,” says Peter Maitland, CEO of Petfood Industries.
It’s not just the UK pet market that is affected by this.
In Australia, the Australian Pet Industry Association has seen its membership decline from 9.8 million to 7.3 million since 2009.
“There’s been a massive change in consumer behaviour, especially when it comes to pets,” Mait, says.
“People are buying products from brands that are not in their best interests.
They feel it’s not safe to be carrying out these tasks with a pet.”
The industry is also looking for new ways to grow.
“We are actively seeking opportunities to expand our brand awareness and engage with the public, which we believe will help us to attract new members and grow our membership base,” he says.
Petfood is also working with other industry players to promote its brands, including in the US.
According “Dairy Farmers of America” CEO Chris Sacca, “We’re working with the US Department of Agriculture to help promote our products in areas where they are popular.”
Petfoods and the pet industry have a history of collaboration.
“The UK and US have long had a long, mutually beneficial relationship in the pet market,” says Sacca.
“They share many common traits, from the large percentage of food sold in the home as pet food to the fact that both countries have pet food regulations and consumer protection laws that are much stricter in the United States than in the British Isles.”
It’s difficult to say what the future holds for pet food.
“I don’t think we can say at this point exactly what will happen in the future, but the future looks good for us,” says Mait.
“Hopefully, we’ll be able to build a long-term relationship.”