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Home Pet Food Delivery Is the Future


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The U.S. pet food market hit a five-year high in 2017 in percentage growth and dollar sales, climbing 6 percent to top $26 billion at retail (figures include dog and cat food, but not non-dog/cat food or dog/cat treats). For the market, as a whole, this is very good news, but growth has been far from even across retail sectors. In mass and pet specialty channels, sales growth was considerably less, with multiple sources indicating upticks in the 1 percent range. This means most of the increase is coming from other channels, with internet sellers, in particular, driving incremental growth even as they peel away share from brick-and-mortars. Nor has market growth been even across product types, with certain segments faring better than others as the market continues to mature and evolve. 

As of October 2017, the product claims resonating the most among dog and cat food purchasers were made in the USA, grain free, 100 percent natural (other than organic), limited ingredient and organic. Taken together, these trends indicate that pet owners continue to demonstrate high interest in pet foods that are natural and available online.

In the vast majority of cases, online purchasing also means doorstep delivery, which, for my money, is the purchasing factor to watch during 2018 and beyond—not just for pet food, but for all kinds of household staples. With many online sellers eliminating delivery charges for orders of, say, $50 or more, more pet owners are opting for subscription-based deliveries of pet supplies, which can be especially appealing for heavy items such as big bags of pet food. This boomer just did, and my only question—and that of my achy shoulder, already improving—is what took me so long. 

I’m not alone. During the past 12 months, 21 percent of dog owners in the 55-64 age bracket purchased pet food online for home delivery, and 18 percent of cat owners did so, meaning my age cohort is leading the pack in this area, outpacing even millennials. The online/home delivery numbers among senior dog and cat owners (age 65-plus) are also nothing to sneeze at, at 14 percent and 11 percent, respectively, and can only be expected to grow as more boomers and seniors opt to eliminate pointless wear and tear on their bodies. 

The good news for brick-and-mortars is that an overwhelming majority of Americans still purchase pet food in stores—88 percent of dog owners and 93 percent of cat owners in the past 12 months. In addition, 76 percent of dog owners and 81 percent of cat owners purchase all of their dog/cat food in a physical store without pre-ordering. More good news is a solid outlook for pet food overall, with annual sales gains expected to average 4 percent annually through 2022. That said, it’s no coincidence that more and more brick-and-mortar retailers are exploring, if not already offering, home delivery. Nor is it outrageous to expect pet food home delivery—whether initiated online, via app, over the phone or in-store—to grow exponentially during the same timeframe.


David Lummis is the lead pet-market analyst for Packaged Facts, a division of MarketResearch.com, which recently published Cat Litter: U.S. Pet Market Trends and Opportunities (packagedfacts.com).


This article originally appeared in the February 2018 issue of Pet Product News.

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