In 2008 the global pet food and pet products market was valued at about $68.8 billion. North America and Western Europe combined account for about 70% of worldwide sales. Although pet ownership is relatively stable in the developed markets, the average expenditure for pet products in 2008 continued to increase at an average rate of 3-4%. Moreover, increasing numbers of pet owners see their pets as members of the family and want to pamper them with special foods and accessories. However, the recent international economic downturn may be having an impact on pet ownership. Euromonitor estimates that the global pet food and pet care products market will experience annual growth of 3.4%, as compared to the estimated 6.8% increase documented in the period 2003-2008.
In 2008, the Italian Association of Pet Food and Pet Products Manufacturers (Assalco), in cooperation with Information Resources Inc. (IRI), the Federation of Italian Professional Veterinary Associations (ANMVI), and Zoomark International conducted a joint in-depth survey of their members and a sample number of specialized shops, vets, and pet products companies. This survey is the only official document available in the Italian market that provides indications of overall performance and sector trends in the pet products industry. The majority of the data collected belongs to the grocery channel, as gathered by IRI, while the specialized channel is often lacking reliable statistics for some sub-sectors, like the non-food pet products. According to Assalco members' data, the dog and cat food market in Italy is valued at $1.81 billion, a year on year increase of 7.4 percent. The data for other animals’ food and pet care sectors are limited to the information received from the grocery channel and are valued respectively at $29.7 million and $162.2 million with a growth rate of 5.7% and 6.6%, respectively. The performance of the entire sector recorded a general increase of 6.7% for a total turnover of just over $2 billion.
According to Euromonitor, in 2008 the entire Italian pet products market was valued at $3.39 billion. The value of the dog and cat food products sector accounting for more than two thirds of the entire sector, increasing 3.9% to $2.3billion in total. The market for other animal food products grew by 3.7% and registered an overall turnover of $410.3 million. The market for pet care products also demonstrated positive growth and an overall turnover of $683.8 million. Additional in-depth studies conducted by Assalco show that the pet care sector in the grocery channel achieved positive growth and reached over 8 points increase in a few sub-sectors, for example, accessories.
The market for pet products in Italy is strong and thus far has not been terribly affected by the international economic and financial decline. In particular, sub-sectors like pet care, premium and superpremium pet food continue to show strong market performance. The recent trend indicates that pet owners are more likely to treat their pets with greater care for example choosing special foods tailored to the pet’s specific nutritional requirements.
According to Eurispes and the Italian Ministry of Health, there are over 14 million dogs and cats in Italy, as well as approximately 30 million other types of pets, including rabbits, ferrets and small animals, fishes, birds and reptiles. Six out of ten Italian families own a pet, while 33% of them own either a dog or a cat.
Average pet life expectancy has increased in the last 25 years. According to the Italian Association of Animal Health (AISA) companies, the life expectancy of dogs has increased from 7-8 years in the 1980's to 14-16 years today. This increase is mainly a result of higher quality food products and improved medications and methods of disease prevention. In the past few years, this sector has seen a rise in the practice of treating pets as true members of the family. This trend also contributes to the increased use of veterinarians. In fact, vets in Italy not only provide medical treatment services, they also often provide advice on the healthiest and most appropriate lifestyle for a pet.
Commercial success in the Italian market is dependent on four critical factors: Innovation, quality, technology and price. In fact, several U.S. pet food producers have been very successful in Italy because American companies enjoy a strong reputation with respect to nutritional quality. According to local market analysts, U.S. pet food manufacturers are expected to increase their market share in the near term.
U.S. manufacturers of pet accessories are also well-positioned to enter the Italian market, owing to the originality and design of their products and growing demand for such products in the marketplace.
By Simonetta Busnelli