The U.S. pet industry continues along a healthy growth trajectory, with overall sales of pet products and services rising almost 5% last year. Burgeoning online sales and strong numbers in veterinary services and pet food contributed to the advancement of the market, which Packaged Facts estimates at $86 billion in its new report, U.S. Pet Market Outlook, 2018-2019.
The continuing expansion of non-medical pet services benefits pet specialty big boxes looking to fortify against online incursion.
Sales of retail channel pet food made it the largest pet category with 39% of the market. The 5% growth experienced by pet food in 2017 matches that of 2016, with online sales as the foremost growth channel. Growing even faster were veterinary services, which now represents 31% of the market. Retail channel pet supplies came in third. Meanwhile, the industry’s smallest category, non-medical pet services, grew 5% in 2017.
Continuing the trend of channel migration, the pet food and pet supply retail channels are experiencing much of their growth outside of the core mass-market and pet specialty channels, namely online, where annual percentage sales gains have been in the mid double digits. Both channels are feeling the e-commerce heat, with big-box pet specialty especially hard hit even as mass appears poised to gain from the transfer of the premiumization trend, driven in large part by Blue Buffalo’s cross-over and acquisition by General Mills.
Also seeing a great deal of activity is the veterinary category, including ongoing consolidation and the increasing involvement of major marketers (Mars buys VCA) and pet specialty big boxes (Petco launches Thrive complete veterinary services).
Non-medical pet services also continue to expand, benefitting both from the increased involvement of pet specialty big boxes looking to fortify against online incursion and from the rapid advancement of Uber-like pet sitting services.