Pet Food Concerns to Drive Double-Digit Growth in Alternatives: Study

NEW YORK - Alternative pet foods are emerging as the primary beneficiaries of the recent pet food recall crisis, and could enjoy double-digit growth rates over the next two years as traditional mass-produced foods suffer from the perception they might be less safe, according to a new study by market research firm Packaged Facts.

"Billions of dollars in pet food brand sales are now up for grabs as a result of the pet food recall crisis and its ongoing effects as consumers seek out safer, higher quality foods for their pets," noted David Lummis, senior pet market analyst at Packaged Facts. "This is a highly emotional issue for many pet food companies, with many now actively reexamining and restructuring their operations as a result of the recall."

Indeed, Packaged Facts estimates there will be a brand shift in the market worth $1.3 billion to $4.3 billion in pet food sales, given that the brands used by approximately one in six pet owners were part of the recall.

The report, "Product Safety and Alternative Pet Foods: North American Market Outlook," traces the government, industry, and consumer responses to date from the recent spate of pet food recalls, that triggered alternative pet foods' ascension. The report outlines the implications for North American sales of alternative pet foods, which are now being positioned as both safer and healthier than their traditional pet food counterparts.

The report identifies the main beneficiaries in this brand-switching trend as "high-quality pet foods chosen as alternatives to traditional brands," all of which it groups under the term, "alternative pet food." These include high-end natural and organic pet foods; fresh pet foods including raw/frozen, refrigerated, and homemade; and 100 percent U.S. sourced, locally grown, and other smaller-batch pet foods.

The study evaluates both the short- and long-term impacts of the pet food recall, and explores related trends, such as levels of consumer awareness of the recall and current and expected effects on purchasing behavior; more direct company oversight of ingredients sourcing and production; new labeling and organic pet food standards; new product trends; new technologies in fresh pet foods; and increased government oversight of the industry.

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