Cat owners help European pet care market to grow to €8.5 billion according to new IRI report

Pet owners across Europe have helped the pet care sector remain buoyant during 2013, despite challenging economic conditions that continue to impact many shoppers.  This is according to the latest Pulse Report, launched during National Pet Month[1] in the UK, which provides trends and insights for the most popular retail categories across the UK and Europe, published by global market and shopper intelligence firm IRI.

Worth €8.5 billion last year, the pet market still grew in value by +1.7% across six key markets – France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Italy and the UK – during a recession.  However, according to IRI, this growth was driven by an increase in price rather than volume sales. Price inflation and the fact that there are more premium branded products available in small sizes have also helped grow the sector, which saw slower growth than the previous year.

Cat owners in particular have been fuelling this success with cat food remaining the trendsetter in pet care.  Representing just over half (50.1%) of all pet care sales across Europe, cat food delivered the fastest growth after pet accessories.  Dog food with sales of just over €3 billion, increased its share but at a slower pace, driven largely by snacks and treats.  Offering shoppers greater convenience and choice, single servings of wet cat food and to a lesser extent dry food are the drivers for growth in cat food – and where brands are investing most.

“While the pet care category isn’t growing like it used to, we can see that the trend is better or at least in line with other FMCG products,” according to Paolo Garro, Director Business Insights, IRI.  “It’s interesting, however, that pet care appears to be an increasingly polarized category.  Shoppers are trading down, with private label growing across most European markets, offering a cheaper but acceptable alternative to premium brands during challenging economic times.  But shoppers are unique in this market, and a dog owner may shop very differently to a cat owner, so manufacturers must continue to innovate and defend their brand equity.”

During 2013, the pet care category saw limited product innovation compared to previous years, apart from the major brands developing premium tastes in small sizes or new user-friendly packages, while ‘oral care’ snacks and treats continued to grow in importance.

Key trends:

§  The European market grew in value by +1.7% in the year ending Q4 2013 – worse than the growth in the year ending Q3 2013 (+2.0%)

§  Spain, France and Italy were the top performers for growth in the year ending Q4 2013

§  The main contributor to the growth of pet care across Europe was cat food worth €4.2 billion, up €+84.1 million over the previous year.

§  A smaller but relevant contribution came from dog food with value sales of €3.1 billion (€+46.5 million) driven mainly by snacks and treats

§  Pet accessories had sales of €801 million (€+27.8 million)

§  Other pet food was the biggest falling by €-15.4 million over the previous year, but still generating sales of €299 million.

The IRI Pulse Report for pet care is one of 10 super category reports produced by IRI each quarter to show high-level comparison and analysis for retail markets across major European countries.  The market is split into dog food, cat food, other pet food and pet accessories, and highlights key metrics such as total sales, market trends, category shares and winners and losers for Europe and individual markets. It is available here: