Retail sales soar for natural pet products
U.S. retail sales of natural pet products were approximately $800 million in 2006, up from $350 million in 2001, according to a September 2007 Packaged Facts report on pets, "Natural, Organic and Sustainable Pet Products. Pet food accounted for 71 percent of natural product sales, followed by cat litter at 20 percent and health products at 9 percent. The report also forecast sales of natural pet products to top $1.2 billion by 2011. The growth of organic pet products—primarily food—will at least double this rate, with the organic segment approaching $100 million.
Humans begging for natural and organic
The product claim natural was No. 1 during 2006, when 191 new natural products appeared on the market, 30 percent more than in 2005, according to Datamonitor's Productscan, as reported in an August Packaged Facts report. When natural was combined with organic, the 2006 figure rose to 220 items, representing double-digit increases in the food and nonfood segments, up 35 percent and 17 percent over 2005, respectively. The "Premium Pet Demographics and Product Purchasing Preferences" report notes that 1,000 new natural and organic pet products appeared from 2002 to 2006.
Until the early 2000s, natural and organic pet products were mainly manufactured by smaller companies. But starting in 2005, companies such as Nestlé Purina, Mars, Del Monte, Hill's and (most recently) Iams on the pet food side, and Central Garden & Pet, Spectrum Brands, Hartz Mountain and Sergeant's on the nonfoods side, have introduced natural products.
The mainstreaming activity has created new competition for smaller manufacturers and independent pet specialty retailers. Their response has been to scale up their product offerings to organic, with other claims on the horizon: locally grown and all-U.S. sourced, fair trade, no cruelty and sustainable.
Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXVIII/number 9/p. 84