Spending on pet food among American consumers rose 18% in 2020, to $36.84 billion, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Consumer Spending Survey. This 18% increase (in dollars: $5.65 billion) is the largest in the survey’s history, according to John Gibbons, a professor of pet business, who analyzed the data on his blog. (Since the data comes from the government, it may take some time to release.)
Spending on pet food varies between demographics
Details of pet food spending shared by Gibbons included that the average American household spent $230.38 on pet food in 2020, also an 18% increase. All income groups showed an increase in spending except for those who earn between $70,000 – $99,999 and, interestingly, those who spent $3.75 billion (33.7%) less. Gibbons attributed the decline to the group’s price sensitivity as they first reacted to the FDA’s investigation into grain-free pet foods and dilated cardiomyopathy in 2018, resumed increasing spending in 2019, and then cut their spending again in 2020 due to the pandemic. . “They are middle-income, have family responsibilities and are under great financial pressure,” he wrote.
Gibbons said the slightly lower income group, $30,000-69,999, increased its spending on pet food only slightly at 0.3%, in part due to fewer households in that category. The other two large income groups made up the difference, boosting their spending by 14% (those who earn less than $30,000) and 55% (those with large incomes of $100,000 and above).
Likewise, spending growth on pet food from three age groups, especially the 55- to 64-year-old, came with a whopping 94% increase. Older pet owners, ages 65 to 74, also boosted their spending on pet food, by 6.5%, as did Millennials (ages 25 to 34), by 22.3%. These increases offset spending declines by 45 to 55 years (-23.1%), 35 to 44 years (-12.2%), 75 and over (-1.1%) and Generation Y, younger than 25 years (-48.4%).
The number of households in each population group, and the percentage of pet owners these numbers represented, played an important role in how each group’s spending affected the overall picture.
Pet Food Sales To Rise All Over The World In 2020
BLS data analyzed by Gibbons came from more than 42,000 consumer interviews and spending notes compiled by the US Census Bureau and compiled by the BLS. Thus, the data differs from retail sales data, which tends to have a higher tracking. For example, according to data reported by the American Pet Products Association earlier in 2021, pet food sales in the United States reached $42 billion in 2020, an increase of 9.7% over 2019.
That’s a very healthy increase, as is the BLS report on pet food spending. And the US isn’t the only pet food market that saw strong growth in 2020; Others around the world posted gains, including in developed markets that had seen little or no growth before then.
Developing markets, although smaller in size, enjoyed strong growth in 2020:
- Pet food sales in Ukraine increased by 24% in 2020, according to pet food producer Kormotech (Pets International);
- Similarly, the total pet grooming market in Hungary increased by 17% (Pe-Zo Ltd., Pets International);
- Although the growth of China’s pet food market is slowing in 2020, the bright spots include a 24% rise in the retail unit price of pet food (Kaiyuan Securities Report).
Like many other industries now, pet food is still facing headwinds from COVID such as supply chain disruptions and labor shortages, yet it appears to be driving a mostly positive wave from 2021 and looking ahead to 2022.