Pet food

SA’s pet food industry part of a global boom

South Africans are spending almost R5bn each year to feed their cats, dogs and other pets. And pet food manufacturers say they have barely scratched the surface. Only about 20% of SA’s dogs and 35% of its cats are fed the almost 200 brands of pet food available in SA, says Pet Food Industry Association of SA executive director, Barry Hundley.

Changing lifestyles have sparked a global boom in the pet food industry. More and more people are seeking animal companionships in response to falling marriage and birth rates, smaller families, increased life expectancy and rising divorce rates.

There is also the impact of the Internet and other non-contact communications technologies, which are making people more solitary. Hundley agrees that people “have become more insular”.

The economics of loneliness and the search for unconditional love have influenced the pet food industry. In 2011, the last year for which accurate global figures are available, the world market was valued at US$65,8bn. Euromonitor International forecasts that it will reach $95,7bn in 2017 – growth of more than 45%.

Hundley puts the SA market at R4,5bn-R5bn/year at retail level, and says it is growing at “about 1%-3%/year” – slower than the global rate, which was almost 4% between 2010 and 2011.

He identifies three marketing channels: expensive, specialised brands typically sold by vets; grocery brands sold by supermarkets; and nongrocery brands available in a wide variety of outlets and produced by the proliferating “rats and mice” of the industry.

Specialised brands account for about R1bn/year in retail sales; nongrocery brands for about R0,5bn; and grocery brands, such as Husky, Whiskas and Bobtail, for the rest…..

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