Brits might be scrimping and saving in these uncertain times, but Britain’s dogs and cats have never had it so good. UK consumers like to think of their pets as members of the family and are happy to pay a premium for natural ingredients. Liz Wood, Purina UK&I Market Development Organisation Director, confirms that shoppers are increasingly seeking more premium cat food options:

“We seek to provide our pets with the very best nutritionally, as they’re considered an integral part of the household.”

FELIX is the number one selling brand across the entire pet food category, with total brand value sales worth over £244 million. Six of the top 10 selling pet food SKUs are FELIX pouches, including three of the top four, As Good As It Looks Ocean Feasts, Adult Fish Selection and Adult Mixed Selection. It’s key that wholesalers stock the market leaders, to enable retailers to cater to consumer demand.

FELIX offers a range of premium options, available in Single Serve pouches, such as FELIX As Good As It Looks Doubly Delicious, which combines two types of meaty or fishy ingredients in one pouch. Awarded Product of the Year in the cat category for 2018, the As Good As It Looks Doubly Delicious range is growing by 24.6% YOY, marking its significant success amid premiumisation within the sector.

Consumers are increasingly interested in their pets’ health, mirroring their own health-conscious attitudes. When it comes to pet food, shoppers can feel confident in providing their cats with FELIX. All the pouches are a 100% complete and balanced food, containing Vitamins D & E and Omega 6, providing cats with all the vitamins and minerals they need Finally, the snacking sector of the pet food category is now worth over £400million, presenting a huge opportunity to boost sales. FELIX Goody Bags and FELIX Crispies incorporate delicious flavours and textures in one bag, providing cats with a selection of tasty treats.

FELIX is driving innovation in the category. Last year the brand launched its new Concoctions range – a selection of distinctive recipes, including Salmon in a Chicken Liver flavour sauce, or Duck in a Shrimp flavour sauce. Joining the popular As Good As It Looks portfolio, the new range is driving value by encouraging a switch to more premium options.

At an estimated total £2.6bn, the UK petcare category is incredibly important for retailers, says Helen Warren-Piper, Sales Director at Mars Petcare UK: “Pet owners spend on average £699 per year more than non-pet owners and are very conscious of what they feed their pets, wanting to give them the best possible care and nutrition.”

Drilling down the data, category growth is being driven by Dog Care & Treats (6% YTD), Cat Care & Treats (3% YTD), Super Premium Cat Wet Single Serve (8% YTD), and Dog Wet Single Serve (6% YTD, all forecast to continue to be large contributors to growth up to 2021.

Pet owners are increasingly interested in feeding their pets products with natural ingredients and products formulated to meet specific dietary needs. In addition, with over 78% of owners wanting more special moments with their pets to enhance their relationship, the trends of Indulgence and Treating are of particular importance to the category.

Helen Warren-Piper continues: “We continue to see a growing health trend towards natural foods, with estimates that over one third of main meal pet products sold in the UK carry claims about being natural or having natural ingredients.”

The health awareness trends that have swept through the consumer goods market are also changing how people see petfoods. It is estimated that natural petfood brands will account for £300m by 2020, the fastest growing segment in the category with growing numbers of shoppers willing to pay a premium for natural products.

Consumers are placing value on healthy, fresh food in both their own diets and that of their pets. Tapping these trends, Mars Petcare launched NATURE’S TABLE, an affordable yet premium natural brand providing pets with healthy, wholesome food made from natural, high-quality and ethically sourced ingredients.

Also in Mars’ portfolio is the SHEBA Craft Collection, a new super premium product combining selected ingredients and an improved texture. Over 30% of ‘Cat Wet’ shoppers only want natural, real-looking manufactured cat food and are willing to pay more for it, so this NPD will drive growth in the Cat Wet Single Serve category by ‘trading up’ mainstream shoppers.

Science based products also attract shoppers who are concerned with what they are feeding their pet, with 62% of female pet parents and 44% of males reporting they would do whatever it takes to make sure their pet is healthy.

This is evident in the increased importance of brands such as Mars Petcare’s PERFECT FIT, which offers super premium, advanced nutrition delivering on owners’ demand for high quality nutrition foods for their pets. PERFECT FIT provides products to meet the nutritional needs of cats and dogs, plus a range of services that cater for their broader health needs, from exercise to mental stimulation. Last year, the brand launched the PERFECT FIT Plus Programme, an online programme providing weekly tips for pet owners, which gathers information from the user to create personalised tips and insights for each user’s cat or dog. Mars Petcare’s WHISKAS Pouch has launched a new and improved recipe, with improved aesthetics and an even more delicious gravy and jelly. At the same time, WHISKAS has launched an 11+ offering, focusing on supporting healthy heart and optimum digestion for older cats. In the UK, over 18% of cats are over eleven years old and WHISKAS is the first mainstream brand to step into this higher age bracket, available in Meaty, Poultry and Fish Selection.

The new packaging includes the stated commitment that WHISKAS’ products are made ‘with selected natural ingredients, vitamins and minerals’, while the Certified Sustainable Seafood MSC stamp of approval is on all the fish products.

Whiskas has also proudly partnered with TerraCycle on the Pet Food Recycling Programme – a nationwide scheme which enables the transformation of waste packaging into useful items.

The WHISKAS pouch renovation is supported by an activation campaign called ‘Get more MeWOW’, encouraging shoppers to get more MeWOWs from their cat with these fantastic new products. Annie Argyle, Whiskas Brand Manager UK at Mars Petcare, explains how MEWOW will drive category growth: “MeWOW is a simple, powerful expression of innovation, taste and – most of all – enjoyment. It is grounded in the category growth driver of Balanced Feeding.”

Three quarters of dog-owning households buy treats for their pets each year. Use of cat treats has also increased, with 45% of cats being fed in between meals in 2014 compared to only a third in 2010. Hand fed cat treats have seen double digit growth in the last year, and in response Mars Petcare has launched SHEBA Creamy Snacks.

For dogs, they launched PEDIGREE RANCHOS Original Treats, 95% meat and animal derivatives, which took PEDIGREE treats into the ‘meaty’ subcategory. Covering jerky or dried meat style treats, this is the fastest growing care and treats sub-segment, showing 32% value growth in 2018.

The latest addition is PEDIGREE Wrap, expanding its bonding Care & Treats range in the ‘meaty’ subsegment, with a safe and enjoyable bonding treat, made with 40% real chicken and safe chopped beef rawhide, and no added artificial flavours or colourants.

Carmen De Vos, PEDIGREE Senior Brand Manager Dog Care & Treats, explains the insight behind the new product: “As our relationship with our pets becomes more emotional, owners want to have more special moments of bonding and connection. Our new product, PEDIGREE Wrap, gives dogs a differentiated experience that starts with an irresistibly chewy chicken wrap, followed by a deliciously munchy stick.”

PEDIGREE Care & Treats will continue to be supported through below the line marketing campaigns throughout 2019.

Wagg’s first wet dogfood Last September Wagg, the UK’s No. 1 Dry Dog food brand by volume, relaunched its entire range of dog food, as it looks to attract new customers and drive sales among existing ones. Wagg also launched a new website, bringing the new look brand and packaging to life and giving pet owners access to detailed product information.

Lucy Stones, Brand Marketing Manager for Inspired Pet Nutrition (IPN), the owner of the Wagg brand, says:

“We believe it should be as easy as possible for the average person to feed their pet well, giving them exactly what they need without having to pay a premium price. Despite the fact our pet food is affordable to the mass market, we know it’s important that shoppers don’t perceive they are getting a lower quality product. The new packaging brings the fun Wagg personality to life while communicating our expertise as the brand that knows exactly what your dog really needs.”

In its next move Inspired Pet Nutrition (IPN), the UK’s largest independent producer of dry pet food is now set to grab a slice of the UK’s fast growing wet dog food sector with the launch of a range under the Wagg brand.

Wagg is already the branded market leader by volume in the dry dog sector with a 24% market. This will be its first venture into the wet food sector where growth is being driven by the plastic tray format with overall branded annual sales more than doubling to over £24 million in the past two years2.

There are four flavours in the new range – salmon, chicken, beef and turkey – available in 390gm trays. The trays will be an addition to the VAT-free Wagg Worker range. Chris Wragg, marketing director at IPN, says:

“This exciting new range is a result of both innovation and manufacturing expertise, combined with probably the most well-invested pet food business in the UK. Some £14 million has been invested in new facilities in North Wales and the launch expands the Wagg proposition of ‘no nonsense, great quality and value’ into the fast-growing tray sector of the wet market.”

Butcher’s Pet Care takes a ‘lead’ on plastic-free packaging

Butcher’s Pet Care, the UK’s number one canned dog food brand, is removing the equivalent of 4.2 million plastic bottles from its supply chain by replacing the shrink wrap on its canned food for dogs. The 6 & 12 pack cans are now 100% recyclable, using cardboard packaging from sustainably grown trees Rachel Collinson, General Manager for food for dogs at Butcher’s Pet Care, says:

“We know reducing plastic packaging waste is a key concern for consumers. We feel strongly that every business has a role to play in making it easier for shoppers to move away from plastic. Our plans to switch to cardboard have been in place for over a year and by the end of next year we will be well on track to being 99% recyclable and will keep working towards our long-term goal of being 100% recyclable.”

The new packaging forms part of Butcher’s recent re-brand. The look and feel repositions Butcher’s dog food as naturally nourishing but still affordable, with 100% of all meat carefully sourced from British and Irish farms.

IAMS new launch backed by record spend

IAMS has launched a new range IAMS for Vitality, supported by a £2m multichannel media campaign, the largest in the brand’s history. The campaign includes TV advertising, PR, digital, social, mass sampling and sponsorship of Crufts, the world’s biggest dog show.

IAMS for Vitality is the next evolution of the brand’s historic dry food range, IAMS ProActive Health, with an upgraded recipe including fresh chicken, responding to insight from IAMS’ survey of over 8,000 pet owners across Europe and offering expert nutrition for all life stages and breeds.

The new range features all the essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients needed to support the 7 signs of healthy vitality. IAMS for Vitality also supports a glossy coat, healthy skin and teeth and a strong immune system for a happy, playful pet that looks and feels great whatever their life stage.

With over 70 years’ experience, IAMS’ new improved formula offers cats and dogs a range of nutritional benefits including high levels of animal protein, with up to 85% for dog and 91% for cat and with fresh chicken for both cats and dogs and a new lamb variant for dogs. The new products contain no fillers, artificial colours, flavours or GMOs and are wheat free.

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