December is here and that means 2014 is drawing to a close. As the economy slowly improved, the pet industry continued to show impressive growth. With that growth came acquisitions, new products and new trends.
There were several notable acquisitions among distributors and manufacturers. Phillips bought Gardener Distributing in Montana and Best Friend Products in Pennsylvania. Mars acquired Proctor & Gamble’s pet food division.
Made in the U.S.A. was probably the biggest trend in pet products in 2014. As more and more pet owners become concerned with the safety of their pets’ food and toys, they turn to American-made products for assurance. With outsourcing being a hot topic in the news, consumers also seem to like the idea of supporting American companies. Manufacturers have been quick to notice and actively promote that their products are made in the U.S.A. Retailers have started noticing too and are highlighting these products in displays and signage.
Along with Made in the U.S.A., sustainability in pet products has become important to consumers. We now see dog beds made of recycled soda bottles and cat scratchers made of reclaimed cardboard. Many companies are touting their green initiatives and consumers reward them for their efforts.
Once again the number of pet products available increased by leaps and bounds. In particular, there was tremendous growth in the variety of cat and dog diets available. Now consumers can tailor their pet’s diet to the pet’s needs or their own desires with foods that are all-natural, organic, raw, limited-ingredient and/or free of soy, gluten, wheat or grains. Treats and chews are following this trend toward variety as well and we should expect to see foods for other pets follow suit.
Another notable area of growth in terms of product numbers was in the aquarium segment. Tons of new and interesting products were released for aquarium hobbyists and that rate of growth doesn’t appear to be slowing down. The number of products for reef keepers in particular grew—see the aquarium column in this issue for a quick rundown on this aquatic segment.
Lastly, the pet industry is feeling the growing economic clout of the Millennial generation. They are strong drivers of most of the trends I mentioned, along with creating a demand for high-tech pet products, like remote cameras so they can see their pets from the office. The influence of Milennials is only going to get stronger in 2015.
The past year was an exciting one for the pet industry; the next one should be the same. I hope it’s a healthy and prosperous year for all our readers.