Does your pet sleep in your bed? If so, the stock analysts over at Citi think you will spend more money on fancy pet food.
According to a new report, the U.S. pet food category has grown at a compound annual growth rate of 4.6% over the past ten years driven in large part by humanization, or the phenomenon of pet owners who think of their pets as a true part of the family. The analysts cite a study that indicates that 43% of U.S. pets sleep in their owners' bed every night as evidence that pet owners view their pets like their children, and are willing to shell out big bucks for pricier pet food.
Nearly 95% of American pet owners viewed their dog or cat as a "member of their family" in 2015, up from 88% in 2007. Meanwhile, vet hospital chain VCA (WOOF) found that 43% of pets sleep in their owners' bed every night, while 28% sometimes do, 24% never do and 5% do only when their owners' significant other is out of town.
The Citi analysts use the VCA figure as a benchmark for the maximum for the long-term penetration of premium pet food. There's 164 million pets in the United States, yielding a total addressable market for premium pet food of about 70 million pets.
"As a result of humanization, pet parents tend to focus more on the well-being of their pet, and are willing to pay a premium for pet food of higher quality that delivers a health and wellness benefit," they write.
This shift is apparent in the market share gained by small, premium pet brands such as Blue Buffalo Pet Products (BUFF) , which has come at the expense of traditional mass market brands. At the Global Pet Expo in Orlando last month, the floor exhibits for the large manufacturers predominantly featured premium/natural pet food lines, points out Citi, with the mass market brands generally having little to no presence.
"Clearly that speaks to where the large companies themselves see where the pet food market is going in terms of growth," says the analysts.
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