Recent figures show the positive trend in the Italian market is continuing, with increases for dog and cat food in both turnover and volume.
Traditional pet shops still important
A report published in 2018 by the Italian association of pet food and pet care industries ASSALCO, together with Zoomark, shows that the total 2017 turnover for dog and cat food products reached €2,051 million ($2,304 million), with a sales volume of 573,940 tons.
The mass market is still the main distribution channel for pet food in Italy, accounting for 56% of total turnover. Although specialised chains account for only 13% in value and 8% in volume, they are performing excellently, with 17% growth in both value and volume.
Traditional pet shops (over 5,000 in the country) are the main non-grocery channel. Despite representing a low volume of sales (17%), they generate almost a third of the total turnover.
All food segments growing
The cat food segment is slightly larger than the dog food segment, with 52.7% of the total turnover in all retail outlets and a combined value of €1,082 million ($1,216 million). Dog food accounts for €969 million ($1,089 million).
In 2017, all three main segments of dog and cat food (wet, dry, snacks and treats) grew in value. 52% of sales was dry food, 34% wet food and 14% snacks. Functional meals and treats continued to show the highest growth rate in the market. The best performances were in specialised chains, where cat snacks were up by 12.7% and dog snacks by 18.7%.
For the first time the accessories segment is showing a slight decrease in sales in mass market outlets such as hypermarkets, supermarkets and small retail outlets.
Their combined turnover was €71.9 million ($80.8 million). Sales of care and grooming products such as shampoos and brushes, on the other hand, continue to grow (+15% in value over 2016).
67% of all Italian households include a pet. Current pet owner trends are an interest in natural/organic products and an increased awareness of the health and wellness aspects of pet products.
Specialisation, innovation and nutritional research are important drivers for Italian consumers when choosing pet food. They focus on the natural (or even organic) characteristics of premium pet food and on selected, traceable ingredients.
Pet owners in Italy also look more and more at the nutritional value of pet food, due to a wider interest in health and wellness. This has led to an increase in research into ‘free from’ products such as grain free, gluten free and sugar free.