Pet food innovation and improved nutrition from European retailers has encouraged consumers to switch to private label from national brands, research company Circana has revealed.
The data, collected across Europe’s six largest markets (France, Italy, Germany, Spain, UK, and Netherlands) showed that private label now accounts for 34% value share of the pet food category.
Private label pet food increased its share of the €10.8bn category by 18% (€3.6bn) during 2022 and in the last quarter of 2022, this growth accelerated to 25% as pet owners continued to trade down from their favourite brands.
Ananda Roy, Global SVP, Strategic Growth Insights, Circana said this has been driven by retailers responding to demands for healthier and innovative pet foods.
More consumers perceive them as being innovative and as good or better than many of the national brands that they compete with
"More consumers perceive them as being innovative and as good or better than many of the national brands that they compete with"
“Pet food has traditionally been dominated by trusted national brands, so the strides retailers have made developing as good as quality alternatives that appeal to consumers’ very real need to lower the cost of their shopping basket are remarkable,” said Roy.
“It highlights, once again, the growing regard for private labels; more consumers perceive them as being innovative and as good or better than many of the national brands that they compete with. The quality of private label pet food in particular, with specialised nutrition or the inclusion of high-quality human food ingredients, differentiates private label significantly.”
Innovations highlighted by Circana across all pet foods included breed and age-based nutrition, the use of human food ingredients such as vegetables and pulses as a source of high protein, low fat and balanced nutrients especially where traditional ingredients may cause allergies or sensitivities.
This view is backed by a recent Mintel survey that showed that sixty percent of UK pet food buyers prioritized health benefits when making their selection.
Circana also revealed that as a result of the innovation boost, new product launches in pet food accounted for 9% of total pet food sales (for private labels and national brands).
The data also said that intense inflationary price increases (of around 12%) did not lead to the same declines in volume sales seen across total FMCG (-1.1% for total FMCG in 2022) or other categories such as food, where consumers were forced to cut back on consumption as the cost-of-living crisis became embedded.
For example, unit sales of frozen food declined by -4.1% and chilled -4.1%. Instead, pet food experienced a small uplift in unit sales of +0.4% (and 1.6 percentage points for private labels), suggesting that this category is resilient to inflationary turbulence, Circana said.