ROCKVILLE, Md. (PRNewswire) — The U.S. market for pet treats has a lot to bark about. Market research publisher Packaged Facts estimates that total U.S. retail sales of pet treats exceeded $5 billion in 2014, reflecting a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6% during the 2010-2014 period. Sales growth in the treat market has consistently outpaced that of the more mature pet food market and pet supplies in general.
The findings were published in the brand new Packaged Facts report Pet Treats and Chews in the U.S., which can be purchased by visiting: http://www.packagedfacts.com/redirect.asp?progid=87660&productid=9101138.
Growth in the pet treat market was accomplished even in the face of greater scrutiny by U.S. pet owners due to ongoing concerns regarding the safety of Chinese-manufactured pet treats and concerns about potential contamination of pet products produced stateside. Sales growth in the treat market moderated in 2012 and 2013 after a wave of recalls, but quickly rebounded as the treat market overall saw an increase of almost 6% in 2014.
The shift toward human-grade pet products has been a factor in sustaining the treat market's upward momentum. Overlapping with the trend towards natural and organic pet food and treats, the humanization trend is an extension of the "pets as family" trend, whereby pet owners treat their pets like children and are highly receptive to products similar to the ones they use for themselves. Not coincidentally, many of the pet treats entering the market today are directly reminiscent of human fare, no doubt appealing to the pet owner as much as the pet. The humanization trend can play out in the treat's appearance, flavors or ingredients, or sometimes all three.
In the report, Packaged Facts identifies three key emerging trends in the pet treats market related to humanization that are expected to impact present and future sales. These include:
- "Homemade" and artisanal pet treats: In the pet food market, this trend has evolved from pet owners making their pet's food themselves, either by using human food ingredients or raw pet food mixtures. In the treat market, the trend toward "made from scratch" has not taken off to as great an extent, but marketers have begun to realize the potential for artisanal treats. In one recent example from a major marketer, Hill's Pet Nutrition added to its new Ideal Balance line-up in 2015, unveiling its Ideal Balance Crafted line for dogs and cats, which includes treat varieties for dogs. The Crafted line is a bow to the homemade food trend, with a focus on small-batch manufacturing, "thoughtfully-sourced, select proteins and vegetables and a blend of distinctive ingredients like buckwheat and chickpeas" to create "unique, flavorful recipes".
- Superfood ingredients in pet treats: As in the human market, marketers look for the next new big thing, seeking out the most promising options in terms of the health benefits offered. Past market darlings include cranberries, goji berries, coconut oil, seaweed, kale, açai, kefir and chia. With its new TruFood line, Wellness appears to be trying to take advantage of as many superfood options as it can. Its CocoChia Bakes snacks feature beets, coconut oil, and chia, as well as blueberries, chickpeas and lentils. The lines features varieties such as Beef & Bison with Blueberries, Wild Game Formula (with duck, rabbit & wild boar and chickpeas & lentils), and Lamb with Purple Carrots & Coconut Oil.
- Pet treats featuring wine and beer themes: Taking the humanization trend about as far as it can go, several companies have tapped into the craft beer and wine trends from the human market and adapted them for pets. Wine enthusiasts can explore nonalcoholic meat gravy for pets from Yappy Hour Vineyard, sold in wine bottles with wine-inspired names: Bark-Deaux, Char-dog-nay, Grr-lot, and Pinot Tail-io. Another company fielding wine for pets is Bark Vinyards, with varieties including Pinot Leasheo, Savignon Bark and Barkundy for dogs and Meowlot Fine Wine for Felines. A Japanese company has come out with a wine exclusively for cats, called Nyan Nyan Nouveau, which actually contains juice from cabernet grapes. But wine isn't the only adult-themed beverages for animals has been a growing trend in the pet product industry. Bowser Beer, for example, a microbrewery in Vancouver that sells non-alcoholic "beer" for dogs, was launched by 3 Busy Dogs in 2008. The company features varieties such as Beefy Brown Ale and Cock-A-Doodle Brew. Snuffle Dog Beer offers a Belgian take on beer for dogs, and comes in original and chicken varieties.