Pampered pets

Cats and dogs are becoming more than pets to us, they are one of the family. Mintel’s research among pet owners shows that two thirds agree with this statement. Owners are happy to spend whatever is needed to provide the best for their pet, from food to toys to treats. This could go a way to explaining why half of dogs and up to a fifth of cats are now classed as obese, and there is also a growing demand for healthier foods and diet products.

According to Mintel, the total cat and dog food market grew by 6% at current prices between 2000 and 2005 to reach pound;1.62bn.

Dog food accounted for just over half of the total market by value in 2005, with the market performance in general boosted by the move towards premium cat and dog food recipes and added-value packaging.

According to Masterfoods, the petfood sector represents a massive profit opportunity for cash and carry retailers with over six million dogs and nine million cats in the UK.

Pouch pack formats continue to drive growth and already account for more than 50% of all Whiskas sales in grocery stores. Cat single serve super premium pack formats have grown by 17.4% and dog single serve super premium packs have grown by 7.9%.

Treating pets as part of the family has seen premium products and snacks and treats driving growth. Masterfoods says the average weekly shop on dogs is pound;4.61 and pound;5.08 on cats which translates to nearly pound;240 and pound;265 per year respectively. Snacks and treats is the fastest growing petfood category, now worth pound;27m a year having grown 7.5%

Susie Ackland, trade relations manager of Masterfoods, says: “Pet owners want to give their pets modern, fresh food that is less processed, uses fresh and natural ingredients and delivers nutritional benefits to their pets.”

Masterfoods has launched Pedigree Better by Nature dog food, designed to naturally enhance a dog’s zest for life. It follows the consumer trend of providing food that visibly contains wholesome natural ingredients. Better by Nature contains meat, pasta, peas and carrots in meat gravy.

Ackland says: “Pedigree Better by Nature is an exciting range that gives consumers a premium daily product that’s not only naturally good for their dog, but looks and tastes great too. This is aptly summed up in the name of the product itself – Better by Nature – as it is naturally better for your dog.”

Another range from Pedigree is Pedigree Joint Care and Pedigree Joint Care+. Like Pedigree Daily Dentastix, Pedigree Joint Care is a ‘functional’ treat. According to Masterfoods this is the fastest growing part of the snacks and treats category with 16.5% growth last year and now accounts for 17% of the total snacks and treats market.

Masterfoods studies have shown that one in five dogs in the UK experience joint discomfort, with up to a third of all dogs over the age of five showing with signs of reduced mobility. Pedigree Joint Care+ contains a unique blend of naturally occurring compounds, CPA+ complex, and is designed to target the cause of poor mobility.

Ackland says: “At Pedigree we are continually striving to develop innovative product ranges to appeal to our market of UK dogs and drive sales for retailers.”

Masterfoods has provided Easy 4 You, which aims to make selecting the right range easier by listing the 19 bestselling lines in an easy-to-use fixture in cash and carries. It is designed to make life easier for retailers with limited shelf space.

Butchers says that wholesalers represent 28.3% of the Butcher’s Business and that wholesalers represent an important route to independent retailers.

The trend of humanising pets has seen Butchers respond with Butchers Choice Seasonal Recipes. The flavours will rotate with the seasons to offer variety throughout the year.

Butchers sought the advice of pet psychologist Roger Mugford, who claims that dogs can suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder which can be controlled by tailoring a dog’s diet to match their physical and emotional needs.

Mugford says: “We all know that seasons affect human emotions and it shouldn’t surprise us that dogs are similarly affected by the time of year and can feel ‘down’ in the winter. To help combat this caring dog owners should be aware that nutritional needs of dogs vary with the seasons and they need to match these changes by offering pets appropriate recipes.”

Butchers has also launched Butcher’s Choice Organic which contains no artificial colours, flavourings or preservatives. It is available in four flavours Beef, Chicken Vegetables, Chicken, Red Pepper Rice, Ham Turkey and Turkey, Carrots Peas.

Sarah Alexander, head of marketing of Butcher’s Choice, says: “The message today is that you are what you eat. Our research shows that pet owners are as concerned about the quality of the food they buy their animals as they are about the food they buy themselves. High quality product development is vital when it comes to small dog owners and the launch in organic and lifestage for Butchers Choice is a natural progression for our brand.”

According to Mintel, the continued rise of single serve portions of petfood that comes in pouches, small tins or foil trays is helping to boost the value of the market, especially in the cat food sector where single-serve is most ideally suited.

Olli Cat Food has launched Olli Single Serve, aiming to provide a convenient feeding solution. The wet cat food product comes in a single portion with a disposable non-slip dish. The product is free of colourings and preservatives with meaty chunks in gravy it doesn’t contain cereal or soya.

Sarah Thomas, head of marketing of Olli Cat Food, says: “Cat ownership is on the increase and since launch, Olli Single Serve has proved a hit with cat owners across the country.”

Christine Neasham, head of marketing of Burgess, says: “Consumers are really starting to appreciate the benefits of feeding their pets dried food. Dried food is far richer nutritionally than wet food, and provides a healthier, more balanced diet for pets. Owners are becoming far more concerned about providing the best possible diet, so are turning to dried foods to keep their pets as healthy and happy as possible.”

According to Burgess, in the dog food market dried food has a 42% value share and is increasing by 8.3% year-on-year, while the total dried cat food market is seeing steady year-on-year value growth of around 1%.

Burgess provides Supadog, Supadog Wellbeing and Supa Cat as well as small animal food.

Neasham says: “Increasing numbers of young adults work long hours and live in flats with no gardens, so don’t have the time or space for a dog or cat. This is one reason house rabbits are becoming more popular – although they still require care and attention, they obviously don’t need walking and have no need to go outside.”

Burgess sells about 40% of its total volume through the wholesale and cash and carry channel, largely through specialist pet wholesalers including the pet division of Batley’s Cash and Carry and the Vital Group. Neasham says: “Because all of our core ranges are sold exclusively through the specialist pet trade, the wholesale channel is extremely important to our business. We have a good relationship with the major wholesalers, and benefit from their proactive promotional activity. We’re also extremely supportive of the development of retailer clubs within the pet trade sector.”

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=== Masterfoods’ tips of key trends for 2007: ===

Innovation

l 15% of Snacks and Treats Category sales come from ‘new’ lines

PREMIUMISATION

l Following trends in human foods

l Volume is up 4% in a value market growing at 10% in value

Functionality

l Again following trends in human foods, with Dental/Health showing greatest growth across Dog Snacks and Treats

Permissibility

l The communication of ‘free from’, ‘added’, ‘low fat’, ‘promotes’, ‘maintains’ and ‘vitamins’ are all driving purchase permissibility

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=== Top 19 brands identified by Easy 4 You ===

Bakers Comp Dog Beef/Veg 1.5kg

Butchers Tripe Chicken 400g

Cesar Turkey Lamb Alu CIL 150g

Felix CIJ Tuna 400g

Felix Foil Cod/Haddock 100g

Felix Pouch Mixed CIJ M/Pk 12x100g

Go-Cat Tuna/Herring/Veg 375g

Pedigree Schmackos 12st Beef

Pedigree CIL Orig 400g

Pedigree Dentastix Dog Chews 180g

Pedigree Mixer 630g

Pedigree Original 1200g

Pedigree Pouch Ckn CIJ 300g

Sheba Turkey/Chicken 100g

Thomas Cat Litter 8ltr

Whiskas CIL Rabbit 390g

Whiskas Pouch Chicken CIJ 100g

Whiskas Pouch Fav M/pk 12x100g

Winalot Chicken CIJ 400g

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