Pet care continues to show strong growth
In 2014 Colombia witnessed continued healthy growth in pet care and this growth is expected to continue in 2015. Throughout the review period to 2014, pet care was boosted by a combination of GDP and consumption growth, together with lifestyle changes. Rising incomes are helping to gradually reduce the gap between prepared pet food and non-prepared alternatives, such as table scraps, which is leading to a solid performance for dog and cat food. While dog ownership is largely stable, consumers are increasingly living in smaller homes in urban areas. People who do not have time to walk a dog prefer cats as pets, and therefore there is strong growth in sales of cat food and cat litter.
Increasing number of pet products and services
The number of people not interested in having children is increasing in Colombia, and more people are opting for pets instead to fit their lifestyles. The increasing number of pets and the trend towards pet humanisation (treating the pet as a member of the family) have resulted in a wider range of products and services for pets in Colombia. There are many more specialised products and tailored services being demanded by pet owners, such as disguises, pet treats with health benefits, natural food, dog walkers, day care, hair styling, dentistry, hotels, funerary services, insurance and photo shoots.
Imported products are flooding the market
The number of imported pet products from the US, the EU, Argentina, Brazil and Chile is growing. Thanks to the entry into force of free trade agreements (FTA) with these countries, products can be imported without tariffs and can compete through innovative features, high quality and competitive prices. Local manufacturers are fighting to maintain their portion of the market with more specialised products, prices and distribution.
Online pet stores are gaining in presence
Although internet retailing sales in Colombia for pet care products are still emerging, many online pet stores have been introduced (such as www.ciudaddemascotas.com, www.alimentoanimal.co, www.wawaw.co, www.petgourmet.com.co, and www.naricesfrias.co) and have been very well received, as people who work full time do not have time to spend going to buy food for their pets. In addition, some pet care brands are not available in every Colombian city, so consumers can order them online and get the product in a few days. Also, chained supermarkets such as Éxito, Makro and La 14 are selling pet products online.
Pet food shows much potential for future growth
Pet food will perform well over the forecast period, as there is significant potential for growth. More education about pet health is expected to help boost sales and should also be the key driver of new product launches. Dog food and cat food both still lag behind non-prepared food, meaning there is plenty of room for the continued growth of packaged pet food, especially in rural areas.
The performance of the Colombian economy remains positive
The Colombian economy continued to grow in 2014 by 4.6%. For 2015, a similar growth rate is expected as Colombia has maintained a single-digit unemployment rate and consumer expenditure has been steadily rising. Private consumption rose by over 4.5% in 2014, whereas in 2015 growth will be maintained but will be only up to 3.2% because of constant fluctuation to the US dollar.
As a result of the good performance of the Colombian economy, the size of the Colombian middle class has increased, which has boosted sales of non-essential products such as pet food.
Colombia’s positive economic performance and rising consumer expenditure have combined to make the country one of Latin America’s most attractive growth markets for consumer goods. This rising consumption has in turn boosted the prospects of the pet care industry.
Indeed, most pet care products had a positive performance in 2014 and growth is expected to continue in 2015. Rising incomes are allowing low-income consumers to buy more, and this is helping to narrow the gap between prepared and non-prepared dog food products. Previously niche categories, such as wet dog food, are now quite in vogue, with that particular category growing strongly. In particular, premium wet dog food grew in 2014 as dog owners continued to give their dogs different food, to prevent their dogs being bored with having the same food every day. Additionally, dogs prefer wet food as it smells better and is tastier for them. Also, there is medicated wet food available for treating intestinal problems such as I/D from Hill’s. As volume sales in the review period have been relatively low, there is still a lot of potential for emerging categories, such as wet dog food.
Imported products are filling needs that domestic products are not
Imported products entering the market are more specialised, offering additional benefits that domestic products do not have, such as food without cereals and hypoallergenic food. Most of the new, innovative, brands are being imported from Argentina, the US, France and Brazil. Among the new brands for dogs, Prairie from Nature’s Variety from the US is performing very well, as it provides middle- and upper-income consumers with a more natural food option for their dogs.
Some manufacturers of imported brands are relaunching their products, such as Nestlé Purina PetCare de Colombia SA, which relaunched its premium brand Purina Pro Plan in March 2014, with innovations such as packaging and product benefits. Purina Pro Plan is manufactured in Argentina. Among innovations is the Opti Start technology, which contains bovine colostrum, which strengthens the immune system of puppies.
Colombian pet owners are becoming more educated about pet food and therefore they are requesting more specialised products. As a result, brands that do not offer innovative products are tending to disappear, because there is a wider range of options, and a bigger demand for specialised products. As such, imported brands will continue to perform well in the Colombian market, as products from more advanced economies are expected to fill niches that domestic companies cannot.
Colombians increasingly prefer higher-quality food for their pets
Owners of dogs and cats increasingly feel that their pets are members of the family and, as such, they are willing to spend more money to improve their pets’ health and prolong their lives as much as possible. Foods that do not contain grains or artificial colours and flavours are more expensive, but are becoming more popular in Colombia, as these products claim that they are beneficial to pet health. As a result, consumers are increasingly buying these products, with some examples being Hill’s Ideal Balance and Taste of the Wild.
Manufacturers of pet care products (especially imported brands) will invest more in research and development, in order to offer higher-quality products at competitive prices. This market will continue to mature in the forecast period, as more competitors enter. The increasing range of pet products in Colombia will put pressure on manufacturers to innovate to the point of creating specialised foods for a certain breed or medical condition.
Pet obesity is becoming a concern
Many dogs and cats are suffering from obesity, mainly those in urban areas in small apartments, as sometimes their owners do not have the time to exercise them enough. Veterinarians are warning pet owners about the health risks of obesity for their pets, which reduces their quality of life and life expectation. Diet foods are becoming more popular as demonstrated by Hill’s Canine Light Small Bites, Dog Chow Light, Eukanuba Weight Control Large Breed and Hill’s Feline Adult Light and Max Light, among others.
As pet owners have become more aware that obesity can negatively affect the health of their pets, the demand for light and diet pet food options will continue to grow over the forecast period. Consumers will continue to positively respond to the increasing offering of light and healthy products in the market, and the demand for them is just beginning to show its full potential.
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