Pandemic causes pet population boom

A lockdown-driven boom in the UK pet population is creating huge opportunities for retailers, new research reveals.

The research from Mars Petcare unveils the true extent of the pet boom over the course of the pandemic, with a rise of more than 1.5 million pets.

As a result, total sales of pet food and litter have surged by 10.8%, an increase worth £45m. This is being driven by rocketing demand for pet food and treats formulated with natural ingredients and based on the diets of animals in the wild.

Zoe Taphouse, Category & Market Activation Director at Mars Petcare UK, said: “The new generation of pet parents are spending more money on products that give animals optimum nutrition for the life stage they’re at. They’re giving pet food as much consideration as the food they eat themselves, and trends in human food & drink are being reflected in the category.”

The research also reveals that the number of puppies living in the UK almost tripled between 2016 and 2020. By the end of last year, there were 1.8 million puppies in the country. Meanwhile there were 1.3 million kittens in Britain in 2020, up from 650,000 in 2016.

Taphouse added: “The prospects for the category are extremely good. Not only do shoppers tend to shop petcare for considerably longer than other categories such as infant care, they also show a far greater propensity to trade up and try new things. With the right ranges and in-store marketing, our retail partners can look forward to a long period of growth.”