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The pet food market has not just weathered COVID-19, it has thrived, according to market research firm Packaged Facts, which just released its U.S. Pet Market Focus: Pet Food Update report. Packaged Facts projects U.S. retail sales of pet food (dog and cat) at $37.1 billion in 2021, up 6.4 percent over 2020. Sales are projected to reach $47.9 billion in 2025, equating to a robust 6.6 percent compound annual growth rate.

According to David Sprinkle, Packaged Facts research director, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and a corresponding surge in pet care spending fast-forwarded pet food industry investment, product development, marketing and retailing. COVID-19 therefore accelerated several existing trends that are likely to invigorate the pet food business for years to come, according to Packaged Facts:

  • Superpremium pet food’s claim to fame as the front-line pet health product, with natural formulations and science-based foods in high demand.
  • The advance of superpremium pet foods in non-traditional forms, most significantly fresh (refrigerated/frozen) and alternative protein/meatless/vegetarian.
  • The corporate and consumer pursuit of pet foods with ethically sourced ingredients, along with other sustainability initiatives such as eco-friendly packaging.
  • The erosion of the long-standing mass/pet specialty/online channel boundaries that both gave and took away, defining and “exclusive-izing” key brands but also making them less accessible and affordable.

E-commerce trends, moreover, are pivotal in the pet food sector due not only to repeat and bulk purchases, but to a wholesale realignment of the competitive landscape in the wake of the success of pure play pet product e-tailers such as Chewy and Amazon, Packaged Facts officials said. Notable among the key chain retailers that have traditionally been brick-and-mortar-based are ramped-up activities including “buy online, pick up in store” (BOPIS), curbside pick-up, and same-day/two-day delivery programs.