Pet owners embrace premium pet food options

Premium pet food remains a top-selling consumer packaged goods category, but that trend may be curbed by elevated inflation, according to shopper intelligence firm Catalina. In early 2020, St. Petersburg, Fla.-based Catalina released a study projecting that premium pet food (along with CBD products and plant-based products) would rank among […]

Premium pet food remains a top-selling consumer packaged goods category, but that trend may be curbed by elevated inflation, according to shopper intelligence firm Catalina.

In early 2020, St. Petersburg, Fla.-based Catalina released a study projecting that premium pet food (along with CBD products and plant-based products) would rank among the decade’s hottest-selling CPG categories. Within weeks of its report being published, COVID-19 was officially declared a pandemic. Now, about two-and-a-half years later, a “deep dive” look by Catalina shows that its premium pet food projection has largely panned out during the first quarter of the decade.

With the number of households with pets rose dramatically with the onset of the pandemic and thereafter, climbing 14% in 2021 and so far in 2022, Catalina said, citing data from Statista. Now, faced with high prices across departments at grocery and mass retail stores, pet shoppers are shifting to larger package sizes, either to accommodate more pets or for greater value during inflationary times. 

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As the offerings in the category have expanded, refrigerated/frozen dog food sales have grown. Unit sales of refrigerated dog food gained 57% and refrigerated/frozen dog snacks rose 39% for the April-June 2022 period versus the same span in 2020. Also seeing robust growth in that time frame was semi-moist dog food, up 34%.

Meanwhile, unit volume dipped by 7% for premium wet cat food and by 5% for premium wet dog food over the April-June period.

A case in point for catering to pet owners seeking premium options is Raley’s. Late last month, the Western grocery chain opened its fourth Raley’s O-N-E Market store, in Roseville, Calif. The retailer noted that the location is its first to offer fresh, human-grade pet food and specialty dog treats, in line with the “O-N-E” (Organics, Nutrition and Education) concept’s wellness theme. The new pet food and specialty treats program is being piloted in the Roseville store and, depending on performance, could be rolled out to more Raley’s locations.

Catalina’s research also identified significant cross-shopping among pet owners. For example, these customers also purchase three times more cleaning products, snacks (for themselves), frozen french bread pizza and fabric softener/deodorizer when shopping for pet supplies. Likewise, pet shoppers also tend to add two times more frozen novelties, laundry additives, frozen baked potatoes, frozen onion rings, canned pie filling and cosmetics remover to their cart.

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