US pet meals gross sales eclipse pandemic spike, hold climbing


Retail sales growth of pet food and treats has embarked on a new trajectory in 2021. Over the past year, all but one four-week period saw sales growth of 9.9% or more, according to the NielsenIQ US Pet Food Trends and Insights report. Pet food sales soared in 2021 to the point where they matched and then dwarfed the early-pandemic 2020 sales surge. In this March 2020 pandemic surge, U.S. pet retail sales topped $850 million per four-week period, but quickly fell back to $600 million by the end of April. Earlier this year, pet retail sales had gradually increased and surpassed pandemic highs as dollar sales volume approached $900 million in a four-week period in December 2021.

Supply chains challenge pet food retailers while e-commerce boosts sales

Along with the ongoing pandemic, supply chain issues impacted pet food sales in 2021. Analysts at NielsenIQ looked at the number of UPCs being sold at US pet product retailers. In 2020, 27,697 UPCs passed checkout scanners. By 2021, that number had fallen by 586 to 27,111, a 2.2% decrease. Dog treats and wet cat food appear to have suffered the most from supply chain issues, as they saw the largest declines in UPC prevalence.

Despite the struggles of getting pet food to where it’s needed, e-commerce thrived in 2021 and remained strong as orders continued their three-year uptrend. Even the holiday wave was higher in December 2021 as orders increased by 393,000 versus 279,000 in 2020. In February 2019, less than 10 million dog food and treat orders were placed online. That number has more than doubled to over 22 million orders by the end of 2021. Ecommerce cat food orders nearly tripled between February 2019 and December 2021. Dry dog ​​food and dog treats were a major contributor to this growth.

Tim Wall is Senior Reporter for WATT Global Media covering the dog, cat and other pet food industries. His work has appeared in Live Science, Discovery News, Scientific American, Honduras Weekly, Global Journalist and other outlets. He holds a journalism master’s degree
from the University of Missouri – Columbia and a bachelor’s degree in biology.

Wall served in the Peace Corps in Honduras from 2005 to 2007, where he coordinated with Moroceli City Council to organize a municipal garbage collection system, taught environmental science, translated for medical brigades, and promoted sustainable agriculture, among other projects.

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