Cat Food and Dog Snacks Lead J.M. Smucker’s Pet Food Sales Growth

J. M. Smucker Co.’s 2021 first quarter numbers proved higher than expected, including its pet food division, said Mark Smucker, president and CEO of J. M. Smucker Co., in an Aug. 25 company earnings call.

"In the first quarter, net sales increased 11 percent versus the prior year, with each business outperforming our expectations … Results in the pet food and snack segment were slightly better than expected," Smucker said.

The pet food division reported net sales of $692.6 million for its first quarter ended July 31, compared to $669.9 million in the year-ago period.

The growth was led by the continued "strong" performance for the cat food and dog snacks portfolios, which grew 13 percent and 9 percent, respectively, according to Smucker.

The growth within cat was led by the 9Lives and Meow Mix brands, while dog snacks was led Milk-Bone and Pup-Peroni, according to Tucker Marshall, chief financial officer of J. M. Smucker.

"While still relatively small, cat snacks increased over 20 percent driven by the Nutrish brand," Marshall said. "Dog food sales decreased mid-single digits, driven by declines for the Natural Balance and Nature’s Recipe brands and private label dog food, slightly offset by growth for the Kibbles ‘n Bits brand.

"Nutrish dog food sales were down slightly due to lower pricing," Marshall added. "Pet food segment profit increased 4 percent compared to the prior year, driven by lower cost related to manufacturing, increased volume mix and reduced marketing and selling expenses, partially offset by increased promotional activity."

Overall, net sales for the Orrville, Ohio-based company was $1.97 billion for the first quarter, up 11 percent from $1.78 billion in the year-ago period. Net income came in at $237 million for the first quarter, up 53 percent from $154.6 million in the year-ago period.

When it comes to overall full-year fiscal 2021 projections, the COVID-19 pandemic creates some uncertainty, according to officials. However, due to stronger than anticipated first quarter results, along with revised assumptions for the remainder of the year, J. M. Smucker has increased its full year expectations to include net sales flat to up 1 percent versus the prior year, Smucker said.

Smucker summarized a few key points.

"One, our business performed very well this quarter, and we exceeded our expectations in a uniquely challenging period," Smucker said. "Two, we remain confident in our consumer-centric growth strategy and have significantly improved performance across many of our category. Three, we continue to adapt and be agile in this changing environment focused on maintaining and growing our consumer base, and growing our categories and market share. And four, while there will always be more work to do our strong start and continued business momentum has put us in a position to deliver our financial commitments for the fiscal year."