Pets may be encouraging higher spend on treats among U.S. pet owners. Sales of pet treats have outpaced both dog and cat food in the last five years, according to new research by Mintel. In fact, treat sales have increased by 29% between 2012 and 2017, while dog food sales grew by 8% and cat food sales by 11% during the same time period.
One in 11 (9%) pet owners said they feed their pet toppers, such as sauce and gravy, as a snack or treat. Seen as more than just a way to reward good behavior, treats are how three quarters (75%) of pet owners show their pets love. Treats are also popular for their health benefits; one quarter (24%) of pet owners give their pet treats designed to address specific health issues, such as dental care or hairballs.
Mintel also found that quality ingredients are of the utmost importance for U.S. pet owners; two in five (40%) pet owners said they check the ingredients list when purchasing new pet food or treats, while 64% would be interested in treats made with premium all-natural or organic ingredients. Mintel’s report also emphasized the ample room for further growth in the pet treats category. Less than half (47%) of pet owners said they give their pets treats on a daily basis.
“While dog and cat food dominates the category, the continued growth of treats is a clear reflection of the increasingly prevalent view among pet owners that pets are members of the family and deserve a bit of pampering. Treats are a way that pet owners can show their pets some love and, for some, they’re also a way to address specific health and wellness issues. Despite the fact that treats and toppers have helped drive incremental sales in the category, usage remains relatively low, suggesting there is room for further gains,” said John Owen, senior food and drink analyst at Mintel. “Retailers may be able to spur additional sales by promoting themed care and feeding regimens consisting of complementary foods, toppers and treats.”
The category also represents potential opportunity for retailers that are looking to launch new or expand existing private brands.
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