The cat food market continues to stride forward into the quality sector, with innovations and stronger branding. Healthy trading for the manufacturers and multiples — and good news for cats?
THE BIRTH of the pet food industry is attributed to James Spratt of Cincinnati, Ohio, who just before the turn of the century travelled to London to sell lightning conductors …
It appears that on his arrival he noticed a number of dogs on the quayside eating discarded ship’s biscuits, and with this in mind set about producing biscuits specially for dogs, so creating the pet food market as we know it.
Manufacturers recognised the potential of the cat food market as far back as the 1930s. Pedigree Petfoods introduced the KiteKat brand and started on the road to market supremacy, quoted recently at 59% (BLA Group).
An estimated 6.9 million cats now grace our shores. A majority of them belong to 4.7 million households, with caring owners prepared to indulge their needs. Altogether an excellent base for a [pounds]493m market engaged in helping owners to feed them.
The present emphasis is on the top end of the market. Tony Aves, marketing manager of Friskies Petcare, says: “One of the major trends at the moment is the demand for super premium, top quality products. We are well placed to take advantage of this.” Nestle’s recent launch of Gourmet Fresh Catch marks one of the latest developments in market direction that can be traced back to the launch of super premium variety Sheba by Pedigree in 1985, claimed to be the first of its kind.
The market now is made up largely of premium and super premium brands, accounting for 74% (BLA Group).
Whiskas, current brand leader, has recently introduced two new products: Catmilk, a processed milk with the lactose reduced — this natural ingredient in cows’ milk can cause upset stomach, resulting in an estimated half of the cat population preferring not to drink milk — and Whiskas Crunch, designed to be sprinkled over moist cat food to improve the meal and extend the feeding proposition.
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The dry food sector quoted by Pedigree as a [pounds]50m market and growing by 17% per year, now combines as many as four tastes within one variety — such as Rabbit, Beef, Game and Lamb, and Chicken, Goose, Turkey and Duck in the Whiskas Cocktail range.