What’s next for pet food in a post-pandemic world?

The Global Alliance of Pet Food Associations (GAPFA) has shared its views on the impact of the pandemic on pet owner buying habits and global industry trends with PETS International. The article about this category’s resilience and the important role pet food manufacturers and marketers play in supporting pet ownership has been reproduced here:

The Global Alliance of Pet Food Associations (GAPFA) has a clear view on the global status of the pet industry, due to their strong connection with prominent associations and manufacturers worldwide. They shed their light on the times before, during and after the pandemic, considering pet ownership, customer behaviour and industry trends.

The need for companionship

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that pets are not just animals to many people, they are now family, friends, companions: their power lies in their ability to ease the stress and isolation that owners can feel. More than ever, people have experienced these conditions in 2020, with the uncertainty caused by the pandemic, lockdown and closure of large parts of the economy. Faced with growing social seclusion and economic hardship, many are now looking to companion animals to help provide comfort and company.

Everything on hold

GAPFA represents 13 pet food associations from all corners of the world and three global pet food manufacturers. In the lead up to the pandemic, these individual associations reported that humanisation and premiumisation were accelerating at a rapid rate, resulting in continued growth. Once the COVID-19 lockdown period began, the industry faced significant uncertainty, with social isolation, shifts in shopper behaviour, strained supply chains and an unprecedented recession on the immediate horizon.

Resilient industry

The alliance represents at least 92% of global pet food production, and thankfully, for most of their markets around the world, the pet food industry has proven its resiliency as many countries deemed it as an essential service. Many organisations have significantly scaled up their production to supply the increased demand for pet food during the crisis, while proactively responding to supply risks and the need to keep their workers safe.

Going online

Pet food shoppers globally have driven a dramatic shift to e-commerce preferences throughout the pandemic. Largely a result of social distancing and increased hygiene measures, consumers began stockpiling essential products like pet food and turning increasingly to online retailers for ‘no-touch’ delivery options. In the US, e-commerce made up 16% of the category before COVID-19, and now sits at 23%.

Industry’s responsibilities

In many parts of the world, a surge in the adoption and fostering of animals during lockdown surpassed expectations of animal welfare organisations. At the peak of the crisis, many shelters reported being empty or receiving record numbers of adoption enquiries. While this is a positive trend for pet food manufacturers, it also poses risks of abandonment and relinquishment of animals which has historically occurred during times of recession and high unemployment. So, for pet food manufacturers, it is important to not only make safe and nutritious food for animals but also to educate consumers on the importance of responsible pet ownership and supporting local shelters where possible.

Post-pandemic forecast

Entering the new post-pandemic age, GAPFA anticipates that the pet food industry will continue to show its resilience and remain one of the winning fast-moving consumer goods categories globally. And, with consumers looking to save money, many will make sacrifices in order to keep spending on their pets so as to keep them fit, happy and healthy for many years to come.

Reproduced with thanks to PETS International and GAPFA.