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Truly a Global Experience

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Global Pet Expo, the pet industry’s largest annual trade show, is presented by the American Pet Products Association and the Pet Industry Distributors Association. Founded in 1958, APPA consists of a diverse group of manufacturers, importers and suppliers focused on a mission to promote, develop and advance pet ownership.

Pet Age sat down with Andrew Darmohraj, executive vice president and COO of APPA, to learn more about the organization and its sponsorship of the Global Pet Expo.

Pet Age: APPA has been a fixture of the pet industry since 1958. Can you tell us what the original goals of APPA were at that time and how they have changed over the years?

Darmohraj: The American Pet Products Association was established to provide its then 16-member companies with services that would help their businesses prosper. Today, APPA consists of more than 1,000 pet product manufacturers, their representatives, importers and livestock suppliers, representing both large corporations and growing business enterprises worldwide. We provide a wide spectrum of benefits and programs designed to serve our members’ unique needs. This also includes producing the largest annual pet products trade show in the industry, Global Pet Expo.

APPA’s comprehensive market research, the National Pet Owners Survey, which debuted in 1988, has positioned the organization as the premier resource for comprehensive consumer data for manufacturers, retailers, investment professionals and media outlets worldwide.

In addition to providing programs to our membership, APPA’s mission is to promote, develop and advance pet ownership and the pet products industry as a whole. It also strives to be a leading voice within the industry through coalition building and legislative advocacy.

Pet Age: Can you tell us how Global Pet Expo has changed over the years?

Darmohraj: Since Global Pet Expo debuted in 2005, the show has experienced unprecedented growth with each passing year. Compared to its premier year, the show has grown 65 percent and is considered one of the top 100 trade shows in the nation, according to Trade Show Executive magazine. Last year, buyer attendance was at all-time high with more than 5,300 buyers, 27 percent of which represented 71 countries from around the world.

Over the past 10 years, we have added specialty sections on the show floor in response to growing trends within the industry, allowing attendees to more easily navigate the massive show while networking with exhibitors in more niche markets.

The international presence, whether it’s attendees or the growing number of international exhibitors, has solidified Global Pet Expo as a key trading opportunity for companies worldwide. Additionally, the press exposure has grown extensively with coverage from the trade magazines and bloggers, as well as major media outlets like the TODAY show, Good Morning America and USA Today.
More recently, Global Pet Expo has taken the opportunity to honor its exhibitors, buyers and media attendees with awards such as the “Best In Show” New Products Showcase, Excellence in Journalism and Outstanding Contributions to the Pet Industry Award and the latest, Retailer Excellence Awards.

Pet Age: Tell us what APPA’s role is within the context of the Global Pet Expo.

Darmohraj: With the premiere of Global Pet Expo in 2005, APPA joined forces with the Pet Industry Distributors Association to establish the largest annual pet products tradeshow in the industry. APPA is responsible for managing Global Pet Expo’s preshow and on-site operations, from booth sales and attendee registration, to media relations and promotional opportunities for its exhibitors.

Pet Age: How have you seen the pet industry change since 1958?

Darmohraj: Most notably, the pet industry has grown to be a $55 billion industry as projected for actual 2013 spending by APPA. The pet marketplace has consistently attracted a stream of entrepreneurs and investors introducing new, innovative products and services that have fueled tremendous growth in the past five decades.

Pet services such as grooming, boarding and day care have boomed in response to pet owners’ desires for convenience as well as opportunities to pamper their pets. Advances in health care treatments, and increased spending on veterinary care, supplies and OTC medications, demonstrate a greater effort to provide longer, healthier lives for pets on both the industry’s and pet owners’ parts.

And, the overall and consistent rise in pet ownership has certainly been at the heart of many of the trends and opportunities that have emerged within the industry, as the human-animal bond remains strong, encouraging continued growth.

Pet Age: How has the focus of APPA changed over the years?

Darmohraj: Over the course of more than five decades, APPA has taken a leading role in coalition building, legislative monitoring and advocacy, and continues to broaden its reach and impact within the industry as well as reaching consumers. In 2007, it established the Pets Add Life campaign, designed with the sole goal of increasing awareness of the joys and benefits of responsible pet ownership and encouraging pet adoption. More recently, APPA has played a pivotal role in the formation of Human-Animal Bond Research Initiative, and the Pet Leadership Council.

Pet Age: Make a prediction for 2014. What do you think the next big trend will be?

Darmohraj: The next big trend is actually a continuation of an existing trend in that the humanization of pets will further drive what is popular to the pet product consumer. High-end products and services that mirror human consumers will thrive as pet owners seek the same high-quality food and care they have themselves. This will result in growth of natural and high-end foods, superior supplements and supplies, and products that improve pets’ health and enhance the bonding and interactive experience.

Pet Age: What types of challenges do you think retailers and manufacturers will be facing in the next few years?

Darmohraj: The continued acquisitions by large companies and the consolidation of vendors providing products to the mass pet chains will prove more challenging for small and midsize manufacturers to sell through those channels. That said, the recovering economy provides opportunity for those companies in pet specialty as independent stores make a comeback and consumers are less concerned about price.

- Stacy Mantle

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