Flavor for Fido and Felines: Data Shows Jump in Pet Snacking

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Snacking in America is on the rise and humans aren't the only ones who are craving flavorful treats. Dogs and cats are snacking more, and sales of pet treats have outpaced the growth of dog and cat food over the last five years, according to recent Mintel data. 

“While dog and cat food dominate the category, the continued growth of treats is a clear reflection of the increasingly prevalent view among pet owners that pets are members of the family and deserve a bit of pampering," said John Owen, senior food and drink analyst at Mintel.

Pet Treat Sales Reach $4.39 billion 

According to recent data from Mintel, pet treat sales rose by 29% between 2012 and 2017 to reach $4.39 billion. Meanwhile, dog food sales grew 8% between 2012-17 to reach $11.8 billion, while cat food sales increased 11 percent to reach $6.83 billion during the same period.  

Snacking on the Rise 

With snacking frequency on the rise among Americans, the market research firm said it seems the snacking trend may be extending to pets as one in 11, or 9%, of pet owners say they feed their pet "toppers" such as sauce and gravy as a snack or treat.

Seen as more than just a way to reward good behavior, 75% of pet owners agree that treats are their way of showing their pet love. Treats are also popular for their health benefits as one quarter of owners give their pet treats designed to address specific health issues, such as dental care or hair balls.

"Treats are a way that pet owners can show their pets some love and, for some, they're also a way to address specific health and wellness issues," said Owen. "Despite the fact that treats and toppers have helped drive incremental sales in the category, usage remains relatively low, suggesting there is room for further gains." 

In fact, less than half (47%) of pet owners say they give their pets treats on a daily basis. 

64% of U.S. pet owners would be interested in treats made with premium ingredients, such as all-natural or organic

In other findings, U.S. pet owners say they check the ingredient list when purchasing new pet food or treats and 64% would be interested in treats made with premium ingredients, such as all-natural or organic. 

Pet Food, Supplies, Services Market to Reach $70.6 billion 

Overall, America’s pet owners continue to indulge their four-legged friends as the total market for pet food, pet supplies and pet services in 2017 is estimated to reach $70.6 billion, an increase of 2.9% from 2016. The pet market is driven by an increase in pet ownership, as well as rising costs of pet health care and pet owners’ penchant for indulging their animal companions. Fifty-two percent of American households own dogs and 37% own cats.

Future growth in the category will continue to be fueled by positive demographic factors such as millennials getting married and starting families, as well as pet owners’ continued interest in spoiling their pets.