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Will US pet retail go to the cats? feline food ready to grow

by Maria Lange , 12.11.2014

In the US retail pet marketplace, dog food sales continue to dominate compared to income from their feline cousins. According to recent reports from our point-of-sale data, however, focusing on cat food may represent an untapped opportunity for manufacturers.

In our latest video blog, Maria Lange (Senior Product Manager, GfK Retail and Technology) shares findings from our data and explores this potential sales win.

For more information, contact Maria Lange.

Video transcript:

In the retail pet marketplace, it seems like dogs are always barking the loudest. According to GfK’s point-of-sale pet data, dog food accounts for 80% of the total pet food market in the US – almost $6 billion in the past year alone! But a little digging reveals important opportunities on the feline side of the business. The result could be revenue gains for manufacturers and retailers alike.

Let’s take a look at treats. Since 2013, cat treat sales have jumped 7.5% in the US, to $88 million annually. That compares to over 8% growth the year before. By contrast, dog treat growth is declining at a faster rate in the same time period.

Another sign that cat treats are on an upswing is the growing number of brands jumping into the category. Cat treat SKUs grew by 26% over the last two years with nearly 500 products on the shelf now.

We see a similar pattern in the much-talked-about “natural” food market. Natural already accounts for 71% of all dog food sales, compared to just 44% for cat food – still plenty of room for growth here. And natural cat food is 50% more expensive per pound than natural dog SKUs.

A potential barrier to feline sales growth is that cat owners can be as fickle and fussy as their pets. They switch brands at the drop of a hat, often focusing more on price than quality.
Retailers and manufacturers need to show cat owners the benefits of brand loyalty and natural cat foods; these include fewer obesity and allergy issues and healthier coats. With a little encouragement, the cat food market might be purring before you can say “meow.”