Cat Food Market – Growth, Trends, COVID-19 Impact, and Forecasts (2021 – 2026)

 The cat food market is projected to register a CAGR of 4.3% during the forecast period (2021-2026). The imposition of lockdown restriction affected the production facilities of several players around the world. The storage capacity of cat food for a specified period of time acted as a shield from the destruction of existing stocks in the companies. 

The American Pet Products Association (APPA) recently published the second phase of its ongoing report, “COVID-19 Pulse Study of Pet Ownership During the Pandemic,” mentioning little to no changes in purchasing behavior and economic sentiments among pet owners in the United States.
In addition to that, pet ownership and purchasing behavior have been largely unchanged from May to June of 2020. As per the APPA report, there was no significant change in pet owners being financially cautious about their pet product spending, with a majority (64.0%) spending the same amount from May to June.

There has been an increase in pet adoption in the midst of COVID-19, and this increase has occurred across pet types, especially cats. Therefore, with the surge in the cat population, the demand for pet food products for cats are anticipated to increase in the market.

The cats are the second-largest consumers of pet food. They are considered obligate carnivores and require high-quality proteins and meat-predominant amino acids. Though carbohydrates are not mandatory in their diet, they can be utilized, if properly cooked. Most of the dietary carbohydrates come from grains and, to a limited degree, tubers. Cats have an elevated requirement for sulfuric amino acids, like methionine, and a dietary requirement for the amino sulfone, taurine. Thus, the specific requirements of cats has enabled specialization in the industry by the companies through increased investments.

Key Market Trends

Increasing Emphasis on Balancing Dry and Wet Cat Food

The disparity between the sales of wet and dry cat food is less noticeable, compared to dog food. As cats consume very less water, veterinarians and other cat experts recommend that wet food should be served at least once a day to provide hydration and prevent urinary infections. On the other hand, dry cat food is purchased, as it is comparatively cheaper and provides greater convenience. It is also good for cats’ dental health. 

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Hence, cat owners are recommended to purchase both dry and wet cat food and provide them at an optimum balance. One of the key trends driving the cat food market is increased concern over the health and hygiene of the cats. The young generation, especially the millennials, have become very cautious when it comes to selecting food for cats.
 As millennials tend to prefer online purchases, it becomes easier to compare amongst different products. Similarly, this trend of making hygiene a central factor for the selection of a particular product, has encouraged pet owners to prefer limited ingredient diets, which have proven to be vital to keep allergies at bay.

Asia-Pacific is the Fastest Growing Market

Increasing pet humanization and cat ownership, emerging private label store brands, and growing urbanization are some of the major forces propelling the growth of the Asia-Pacific cat food market. The cat population is increasing at a fast pace, as an increasing number of people are adopting pets, considering them for companionship and security. In urban regions, it is also seen as a status symbol. The space constraints in countries like Japan, China, coupled with the fast-paced lifestyle of pet owners has increased the adoption of cats. The rising population of millenieals in the region with high disposable income has also prompted the adoption of cats owing to the low maintanence required for cats as compared to dogs. 
The low occurence of diseases among cats has also attracted several pet owners with limited income as well. Companies are investing heavily in product innovation and other strategic partnerships to expand in the region due to the higher rate of adoption of cats. Pet owners are also concenrating on provision of specific cat food to consumers to reduce the risk of diseases among pets. Thus, in Asia- Pacific, there is a rise in the adoption of cats, which is making it the fastest-growing market.

Competitive Landscape

The cat food market is consolidated, with major global players occupying large market shares and competing fiercely with local players and private labels. The market consists of prominent players, like Mars Inc., Hills Pet Nutrition, Nestle Purina Petcare, and Blue Buffalo. Consisting heavily of large multinational players, the market also houses many private label players.
Apart from the presence of a loyal customer base, the major players in the market benefit from substantial marketing and innovation capacities. Product innovation is one of the major strategy adopted by companies and are launching new innovative pet food products that cater to the needs of the wide range of pet owners in the market.

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