n this age of retail disruption, the
CPG industry has been forced
to face and adapt to dramatic
change—and the pet care sector
is no exception. Endless product assortment
and ful;llment options in the pet industry have
exploded as consumers have shifted how they
shop for their furry friends.
Across the omnichannel universe, U.S. consumers spent nearly ;;; billion on pet food and
treats from January to June ;;;;, according to
market research ;rm Nielsen, New York. This
marks a ;; increase, or a ;;.; billion spike in
sales, compared to the year prior.
While the pet category’s volume growth has
been slow, online retail sales of pet food and
treats are driving much-needed growth for the
overall CPG space, according to Nielsen.
Online Pet Food Purchases Rise
Relative to the ;; growth across online and
offline pet consumables, e-commerce sales
of pet consumables increased ;;; in ;;;;.
However, that’s not to say consumers are
abandoning physical stores for the digital land-
scape. According to Nielsen’s Digital Shopping
Fundamentals research, ;;; of pet owners
indicate that they don’t ever plan to shop for
or purchase pet items online.
While vet clinics, pet superstores and local
pet stores are seeing a dip in sales overall,
mainstream and neighborhood pet retailers
continue to post modest growth as they seek
creative ways to maintain engagement with
today’s versatile pet owner.
Premium Fuels Mainstream Growth
Consumers spent more than ;;; billion on
pet food at traditional retail outlets, up nearly
;; from a year ago, according to Nielsen.
However, consumption has slowed, with the
volume of pet food down ;; over the same
time period. The increase in sales can likely
be attributed to the in;ux of premium pet food
brands on the store shelves of mainstream
retailers, including supermarkets.
As informed consumers increasingly seek
out healthy products, demand for pet food in
mainstream retail has remained strong. Wet
food’s perceived health bene;ts, such as more
protein and fewer grains, has been a particu-
larly strong driver in the dog food category,
which saw overall dollar sales rise ;; from
the previous year, Nielsen says. Sales of wet
dog food are also bene;ting from the higher
demand for all-natural and free-from items.
Dry dog food, meanwhile, continues to hold
a commanding share of category sales, but
growth has tapered as consumers increasingly
favor wellness regimes in pet care.
Specialty Channels Reign Supreme
Specialized pet retail offerings, including
superstores and neighborhood pet stores, rep-
resent a combined ;; billion in annual sales
and ;.; billion in pounds of pet food and treats.
Yet performance has been inconsistent, with
superstores seeing declines in both volume
and dollar sales and neighborhood pet retailers
seeing impressive dollar and volume growth.
These channels differentiate by offering
personalized services with access to key con-
sumer communities. Small regional chains and
independents have driven the most growth
among specialty pet retailers, while pet super-
stores have struggled to compete in terms of
assortment, convenience and online o;erings.
Premium and high-quality pet meals and
meal enhancers have largely supported growth
for local independents. The meal enhancer
category—including dry, wet and liquid toppers, mixers and enhancers—represents ;;;
million in annual sales for specialty pet retail,
up ;;; from a year ago, Nielsen says.
An explosion of product assortment and ful;llment options has
shifted the way consumers shop the category. By WGB Sta;
Source: Nielsen retail measurement services, pet food and
treats, total U.S., for the 12 months ending June 2018
Annual Sales by Channel
$3.5B: Farm and feed stores
$1.6B: Veterinary clinics
$8.0B: Pet superstores and
neighborhood pet stores
$16B: Mainstream retail
$32.7B: total pet consumables
sold across all channels