Pet Food Trends 2024

Innovation, sustainability, and tech integration are a big part of trends for the year.

Kristen Kazarian, Managing Editor

April 5, 2024

6 Min Read
2024 Pet Food Trends
5 trends stick out for the year, both familiar and new.K_Thalhofer / iStock / Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

Dogs, cats, and other domestic pets are a part of our lives. Just as we treat ourselves with healthful food (most times), tasty treats, and supplements to live a long life, so we treat our pets.

The US pet industry as a whole reached a staggering $147 billion in sales in 2023. The American Pet Products Association (APPA) says the forecast is solid year-over-year growth through 2030.

In its 2024 State of The Industry Report, APPA’s pet industry expenditures encompass spending in four major categories: Pet Food & Treats; Supplies, Live Animals & OTC (over the counter) Medicine; Vet Care & Product Sales; and Other Services.

The breakdown of sales within the US market in 2023 are:

  • $64.4 billion on pet food and treats

  • $32 billion on supplies, live animals, and OTC medicine

  • $38.3 billion on vet care and product sales

  • $12.3 billion on other services (boarding, grooming, insurance, etc.)

“The data has shown that the pet industry has remained incredibly strong since 2009 despite wide-scale economic challenges. While there are signs of slowing, the industry is resilient, especially compared to other industries,” said APPA President and CEO Peter Scott. “In fact, we forecast the industry’s expenditures to top $250 billion by 2030.”

6 Findings

These findings are from APPA’s State of the Industry: Strategic Insights from the National Pet Owners Survey:

  1. Pet industry expenditures remain strong over time. In 2023, the pet industry supplied an overall economic contribution of $303 billion, an increase of 16% from $260 billion in 2022.

  2. Pet care is at the top in the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) category — now and before COVID-19 — surpassing even grocery and dairy.

  3. The percentage of households that own pets has normalized to pre-pandemic levels, even as the overall number of households that own pets has increased over time.

  4. Post-COVID buyer shifts have changed to an omni-channel approach, splitting between brick-and-mortar and online modalities.

  5. Although Millennials remain the largest pet owning generation, Gen Z is changing the way owners want to learn about and purchase pet products.

  6. Younger generations prefer visual media to learn about products, and it will be important for brands to consider this in their top-of-funnel strategies.

APPA researchers predict that pet industry brands capitalizing on new trends coinciding with the emergence of Gen Z pet owners through targeted marketing efforts will outperform in the market.

“Millennial pet owners still account for more pet owners than any other generation, but the number of Gen Z pet owners is quickly rising,” said Ingrid Chu, vice president of Insights and Research. “While brick-and-mortar is still a big driver of awareness of new pet products, social media is equally important among the younger generations. Gen Z looks to visual platforms like TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram to learn about new pet products, telling us that pet brands will need to consider more visual media to reach their younger audiences.”

Clarkston Consulting reported that the global pet food industry hit $147 million and will grow at a CAGR of 5.32% by 2028, with the US holding more than one-third of that growth.

The company’s 2024 Industry Trends: Pet Food Report reveals trends are carrying over from 2023 and earlier. Just as human food, brand sustainability, natural ingredients, and other channels than brick-and-mortar are still top of mind for pet owners.

The top 5 global trends in pet food are:

1. M&A to drive business growth

Despite slowed M&A activity in 2023, there were more than 25 mergers and acquisitions, including J.M. Smucker, Natural Balance, and Post Holdings. The main drivers of acquisition activity from these major players included the refinement of brand portfolios and the improvement of manufacturing and production capacity.

Acquisitions in 2024 will be impacted by fluctuating interest rates and available capital from well-positioned acquirers. Categories across treats, supplements, and pet health will be favorable candidates for M&A activity due to the driving health-focused mindset of pet owners.

2. Sustainability with a Twist

Nearly 70% of worldwide pet owners are concerned about climate change and make daily choices with this in mind, according to Euromonitor. As such, pet food manufacturers should recognize the direction of consumers’ preferences and tailor messaging based on what their target consumers value most about sustainability in their pet products. Sustainability efforts range from sustainably sourced proteins to sustainable packaging and striving toward carbon neutrality.

Focusing on pet food formulas, mushroom-based and insect-based pet foods are gaining more traction over standard meat ingredients.

3. Advanced Pet Wellness

Pet wellness has been a priority for pet parents and a top driver for the pet supplements category, which is expected to become a $1 billion industry by 2027, reports Grand View Research.

Wearable pet tech, such as radio frequency identification devices, GPS trackers, and motion sensors, is forecasted to generate $6.88 billion in revenue by 2030 with a CAGR of 14.3%. Beyond wearables, owners are investing in customized food and toy products to keep their pets mentally healthy and stimulated.

4. Omnichannel Retail

Covid-19 accelerated the online shopping experience with many customers going online, but as in-person shopping habits make a comeback, it will be crucial for manufacturers to ensure they’re meeting customers across all touchpoints of the shopping journey: online, in store, on social media, and on apps. Pet customers are often moving between channels, with 20% saying they usually start their shopping journey online or in-store but then purchase the product in the opposite shopping channel.

Pet customers are also increasingly turning to apps to satisfy their pet needs. The average time spent on the top 10 pet-related apps has gone up 15 minutes since 2021.

5. AI for Customer Experience

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is permeating the consumer products industry, and pet food is no exception. Pet food manufacturers are exploring use cases for AI to solve consumers’ desire for convenience and efficiency, and to provide the best life for their pets. AI technology is increasingly being leveraged by brands for manufacturing, product innovation, and customer experience to name a few use cases.

Advancements in AI will continue into 2024, and as such, pet food manufacturers should evaluate which use cases to explore that will deliver against their strategic goals — whether to improve customer satisfaction, increase operational efficiencies, or further innovation.

Top US Pet Food Companies

This is one area that rarely changes. Many major food companies own the top brands of dog and cat food. However, do not rule out the up-and-coming fresh foods and smaller brands.

  • Mars Petcare – Pedigree, Whiskas, Royal Canin, Banfield, NUTRO, Greenies, IAMS, and EUKANUBA, Royal Canin, Acana, Orijen

  • Nestlé Purina PetCare – Purina, Friskies, Beneful

  • Hill's Pet Nutrition

  • J.M. Smucker – Milk-Bone, Meow Mix, Rachael Ray Nutrish, Kibbles’ n Bits, and Nature’s Recipe

  • General Mills – Blue Buffalo

  • Diamond Pet Foods – Diamond, Diamond Naturals, Taste of the Wild, and NutraGold

  • Simmons Pet Food (private label)

  • Alphia (private label)

  • Wellness Pet Co.

  • Freshpet

Smaller brands and other fresh pet food companies include Stella & Chewys, The Farmer’s Dog, Open Farm, Nom Nom, Ollie, as well as many newcomers.

About the Author(s)

Kristen Kazarian

Managing Editor

Kristen Kazarian has been a writer and editor for more than three decades. She has worked at several consumer magazines and B2B publications in the fields of food and beverage, packaging, processing, women's interest, local news, health and nutrition, fashion and beauty, automotive, and computers.

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