Something to Chew On (aka Why Pet Owners Love Treats and Chews)

Something to Chew On (aka Why Pet Owners Love Treats and Chews)

It’s not surprising that America’s dogs and cats are gobbling up more treats and chews than ever before. They taste good and they’re entertaining.  But for more and more pet owners, flavor and entertainment value alone are no longer enough. As important as these product attributes are, many pet owners are also seeking out treats that address health conditions, provide dental care, contain special ingredients (all-natural, limited ingredient, grain-free, sustainably sourced…), and so on. For their part, treat and chew marketers are well aware that their products aren’t a “necessary” components of a pet’s diet, going above and beyond to convince pet owners that their products do more than add calories to their pet’s diet, be it serving as a training aid, or a supplement-infused wellness booster, or as an additional way to play and bond. Whatever the case, they must be doing something right.  Packaged Facts’ pet owners survey results published in Pet Treats and Chews in the U.S., 2nd Edition show that 92% of dog owners and 80% of cat owners have purchased treats in the past 12 months, contributing to a retail market valued at $6.4 billion as of 2017.

To keep pets and pet owners engaged in the market for treats and chews, innovation is the name of the game, with human-style designs and formulations, health and wellness, and product safety as primary driving forces. As such, treat and chew development follows human trends in many respects, with superfood ingredients, grain-free formulas, and “clean” labels among the most popular current trends.  Multi-functional treats and chews are popular as well, with dental treats topping the list, accounting for 25% of treat and chew market sales. Other trends resonating with pet owners include exotic proteins (ideal for pets with allergies and food sensitivities), age- and weight-related treats (joint/mobility, cognitive, and training-sized mini-treats), rawhide substitutes, and treats made with locally sourced ingredients.

Packaged Facts’ new Pet Treats and Chews in the U.S., 2nd Edition looks at these and other treat and chew market trends, including the impact of the e-commerce boom and the pet specialty vs. mass retail divide (recently thrust into the spotlight with Blue Buffalo’s cross-over), and the snow-balling of Millennials as the largest generation of pet owners. Multi-year data from Packaged Facts’ National Pet Owner Surveys provides perspective throughout the report, tracing purchasing trends, as well as attitudes and demographic characteristics of pet treats and chews purchasers.  It adds up to a big “go” for this market now and in the years to come, with sales projected to hit $8 billion by 2012.

-- by Shannon Brown, pet industry market research analyst