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Solid Zoomark Pleases Participants

Posted: June 10, 2011, 1:30 p.m., EDT

By Brian Hutchins

The 14th Zoomark International, held May 12 to 15 in Bologna, Italy, demonstrated that the Italian pet market was solid despite economic challenges in Italy and Europe. For numerous U.S. and Canadian exhibitors, the show promised future growth, as many exhibitors reported strong interest from European distributors.

While a final verdict on the show awaits a determination of just how many distributor discussions conclude with actual deals and official attendance figures (organizers are estimating a record turnout, with increases in both Italian and international buyers), most participants were pleased with the event as it is.

What it isn’t, however, is an odd-yeared version of Interzoo--the much larger international trade show held in Nuremberg, Germany, in even-numbered years. Yes, it is the largest, most international European pet trade show in the odd-numbered years, but it has a markedly different atmosphere than Interzoo, with Zoomark trending heavily toward dog products, fashion and style--more so than the overall global pet market.

Major international pet food producers battle for their share of Italy’s $2.3 billion pet food market.
Major international pet food producers battle for their share of Italy’s $2.3 billion pet food market. See more pictures from Zoomark.
Fully 66 percent of exhibitors offered dog products and 54 percent, cat products. By comparison, 19 percent offered aquarium products, 17 percent, small mammal products, 16 percent, bird products, 13 percent, reptile products and 7 percent, pond products.
Still, the size of the show could benefit exhibitors by increasing visibility. U.S. (10 percent) and Canadian (2 percent) firms accounted for 12 percent of the 636 overall exhibitors, compared to the other top 5 national presences: Italy (42 percent), China (10 percent), Germany (7 percent) and Great Britain (4 percent).

At its heart, it is an Italian show--as evidenced by fashionable buyers, espresso bars, gelato and pizza stands and ever-present smokers--and its organizers.

“Zoomark is fundamental for Italian companies looking to export throughout the world and foreign companies looking to enter the Italian market,” said Adolfo Somigliana, managing director of Piesse srl, the operator of Zoomark International.

That said, North American exhibitors were using the show to land distributors throughout Europe and the world. Some had expectations of adding nearly 20 new exhibitors from this show alone, while others filled holes in their existing distribution networks and supported their Italian distributors.

During the show, the Italian Association of Pet Food and Pet Care Companies (ASSALCO) and Zoomark issued their 2011 report, published in collaboration with the Italian National Veterinary Medical Association (ANMVI), on the Italian pet market. The report showed that the dog and cat pet food segment grew--albeit at a slightly slower rate than in recent years--2.2 percent in 2010, to 1.6 billion Euros (about $2.3 billion). Of that, the grocery/mass channel accounted for 58.6 percent, with pet stores accounting for 36.3 percent and pet superstores 5.1 percent.

Moreover, supermarkets were driving the growth, with food sales up 3.3 percent in value and 1.6 percent in volume, compared to pet stores, where sales were up 0.6 percent in value and down 2.5 percent in volume. The report attributes that to an increased price sensitivity exhibited by consumers since 2008.

Still, pet stores in Italy are able to sell super-premium products, illustrated by the pet specialty’s 38.3 percent market share by value of the pet food market, nearly double its 22.1 percent market share by volume.

The 15th Zoomark International will be held in Bologna May 9-12, 2013.

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