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Pet Food in Australasia: Exploring Growth in a Post-Pandemic Era

8/6/2021
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Australia and New Zealand have experienced sustained growth following the pandemic illustrating a healthy picture for the future of the industry in this region. When faced with social seclusion due to strict lockdown restrictions, the need for companionship boosted ownership of pets in both countries. The pet humanisation trend strengthened even further as more consumers spent time at home with their pets for comfort, wanting to pamper them with quality food and care. Limited prospects and severe disruption for global travel is likely to encourage more millennials to indulge in their pets, as the pet food industry in these two countries remains fairly recession resistant. Australia and New Zealand both experienced the strongest volume growth in premium dry as well as wet dog and cat food in 2021, as consumers opted for the best nutritional options for their fur babies.

Australia and New Zealand_Dog and Cat Food Volume Growth 2020-2021

Source: Euromonitor International

Treating to encourage stronger bonds

Treats are expected to grow strongly as consumers are using these products to engage and interact with their pets as they spend more time at home. The growing popularity of treats for rewards, training and bonding, is leading to innovations in the category as treating occasions mirror that of human snacking patterns. As the humanisation trend intensifies, manufacturers are producing treats with ingredients and combinations similar to human food with products like kombucha for pets and natural treats featuring flavour combinations similar to human food like peanut butter and cranberry.

Renewed focus on sustainability

The concept of sustainability has evolved following the pandemic, as there has been heightened interest regarding environmental issues along with a growing awareness among consumers in both Australia and New Zealand to support locally manufactured products. From choosing products with recyclable packaging to opting for alternative, environmentally-friendly sources of protein, Australasian consumers are becoming more concerned about their pets’ wellbeing and the impact of their purchase decisions on the planet. Producers like Fond Foods are helping consumers gain access to natural dog food produced from an alternative source of meat – possum – animals which are considered pests in New Zealand.

Preference for clean and natural for general wellbeing

Nature-inspired diets for pets are becoming popular in the region as pet parents are increasingly conscious about ingredients used in pet foods. Consumers want to ensure their pets receive the best nutrients, clean label food that is ethically sourced from natural ingredients. Australasian pet parents are investing in premium varieties to uplift the culinary experience for their pets while focusing on nutrient formulation with combinations of high-quality protein, natural sources of fibre, and probiotic blends to maintain optimum health and wellbeing. Interest around products with added functionality such as food sensitivities, gut health and weight management tackling specific health issues like digestion, metabolism and immunity. The interest in improved digestive health for a boosted immune system and better nutrient absorption has seen new products such as Roar’s Kombucha for pets.

Ingredient Preference of Australian consumers 2021

Source: Euromonitor International Health and Nutrition Survey 2021, n=347

Affordable, customised nutrition is going to be key to win over consumers in Australia and New Zealand. The region has witnessed growth in demand for specialty diets in the commercial pet food market where pet owners want to be more involved in the meal preparation process for their pets. Additionally, functional nutrition is also expected to witness rising popularity as interest around immunity boosting, mental wellbeing and calming treats increases with intensifying humanisation pet food trends.

Shift in channels with changes in lifestyle

Consumer lifestyles have undergone longer term shifts and changes following the pandemic, fuelling the desire for convenience. Many new Australasian consumers were introduced to online shopping during the pandemic, signalling a widespread shift towards e-commerce. PetBarn rolled out same-day delivery across Australia in order to address increasing demand for quick deliveries and online shopping. Similarly, on-demand delivery service platform Doordash was also the first in Australia to roll out delivery service to include pet supplies, in partnership with pet store chain, PetStock.

Subscription models have also grown in popularity as consumers value the convenience of signing up to regular delivery routines. Brodie's in New Zealand offers delivery of balanced, raw diet that is tailored and customised according to individual pet nutritional needs. In Australia, Lyka offers fresh cooked meals delivered for dogs, made using ethically sourced meat with transparency in ingredients and production a key focus area.

Channel Distribution_Growth of eCommerce in Australia and New Zealand

Source: Euromonitor International

E-commerce is expected to be a crucial channel for growth, and it will be imperative for small and leading players alike to build on digital capabilities to make online shopping a smooth experience for consumers.

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