Kristi Fender is a freelance writer and editor in Shawnee, Kansas, with a long history of covering animal health and veterinary medicine. She is the former news channel director of dvm360.com and editor-in-chief of dvm360 magazine.Read Articles Written by Kristi Fender
Here are some of the top trends in animal health products, according to David Lummis, senior pet market analyst for Packaged Facts, a leader in food, beverage, and consumer packaged goods market research.
In the past year or so, the market for cannabidiol (CBD) supplements for pets has grown from $30 million to more than $300 million annually, according to industry estimates. What’s more, many of these product sales are untracked due to regulatory issues, so the market is potentially even larger than official estimates. Despite efforts by the FDA to impose some law and order in this Wild West health arena, the market shows no sign of slowing. “It’s really exploded, just as it has on the human side,” Lummis says.
There has been a surge in demand for high-tech pet products lately, with growth focused on two areas in particular: DNA testing and FitBit-type wearables for pets, some of which can transmit data to veterinary practices. The Packaged Facts estimate puts the market for these “smart” pet products at $491 million. “Tech is booming for pets,” Lummis says. “Again, this is mirroring trends on the human side.”
Concerns over dilated cardiomyopathy, while controversial, have put a dark cloud over much of the premium pet food industry, which has become almost synonymous with “grain-free” and “natural” in the last 10 years or so. Now, the pendulum may be swinging back to a preference for science-based nutrition and “veterinarian-recommended” labeling. Lummis says Hill’s Pet Nutrition (hillspet.com) saw its sales jump in late 2019 likely due to a relaunch of its Science Diet brand — in particular its Prescription Diet Gastrointestinal Biome product. Speaking of which, anything with the word “biome” in it is hot right now as well.
Injectable pet medications and combination chewable parasiticides have been successful in placing many veterinarians back in the picture when it comes to pharmaceutical products. But still, competition for pet medication sales online is fierce, Lummis says, with Chewy and Walmart entering the online pet medication space and following in the footsteps of 1-800-Petmeds (which has seen its own sales drop as a result).
Pets as Family
Perhaps one of the top trends of 2020, which is playing out even now, is the increased role of pets in family life. Shelter adoption rates are up, and people are spending more time with their pets at home in accordance with coronavirus-driven public health mandates. “There’s a need for affection and something to hug,” Lummis says, “and seeing pets as family is the main driver of willingness to spend on pet health products and services.” That may be the most welcome trend of all.