Consumer Behavior on Animals, Pet Services, and Feed
The pet food industry has been impacted by fluctuating demand and supply chain disruptions due to Covid-19. However, manufacturers and retailers are implementing sanitation procedures as well as communicating with consumers to address concerns about pet food safety. These and other findings are outlined below.
Demand and Supply Chain
- Pet Food Processing's survey shows the initial impact and response of the pet food industry to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
- The survey interviewed pet food manufacturers (88%), pet food suppliers (8%), and other pet industry business segments (4%).
- Majority of surveyed pet food manufacturers (63%) said they experienced an increase in demand due to consumer panic buying.
- 19% reported a decrease in demand while 10% said they had not yet experienced an impact.
- 51% said they experienced overall positive impact in terms of higher sales and orders.
- 4% of surveyed pet food manufacturers said they were not able to keep up with increased demand.
- 11% said they have shut down or understaffed production due to employees' health concerns.
- 13% of manufacturers said they experienced both positive and negative impacts from the ongoing crisis.
- Pet food manufacturers also reported concerns including distribution and inventory issues in their supply chain.
- Concerns also centered on reduced production efficiency due to social distancing, fluctuating sales, and supply chain disruptions.
- Manufacturers also experienced mixed sentiment regarding distribution across brick-and-mortar, direct-to-consumer, and online/eCommerce channels.
- 73% of surveyed manufacturers reported that their international business has not yet been impacted by the pandemic.
- 23% said some of their international markets including China, Australia and the Philippines have been affected.
- Manufacturers report that sales in pet retail channels have been affected the most by Covid-19.
- eCommerce sales channel is the next to be greatly affected, followed by distributors, convenience stores, and grocery/club stores.
- More than 70% of manufacturers said their sales have not been adversely affected by the pandemic at this time.
- Civic Science's survey also showed that 17% of surveyed pet owners report buying more pet food online than usual due to the crisis.
- However, most consumers are still buying pet food from big box stores such as Target and Walmart (22%), grocery stores (21%), and chain pet stores (16%).
- Nielsen also reported that sales in brick-and-mortar pet food stores rose by 50% in March compared to sales in 2019.
- However, sales slowed down as the government lockdown progressed through April.
- Nielsen noted that current research shows an 'unusual purchasing cycle' with no indication when and if it will go back to normal.
- 36% of surveyed pet food manufacturers said they heightened sanitation efforts during production.
- 34% said they implemented social distancing between workers.
- 27% said they purchased personal protective equipment (PPE) for their production workers.
- Retailers in the pet food industry are also taking steps to assure consumers that their products are safe for pets.
- Pet Food Industry reports that retailers are offering curbside delivery and online order options.
- Elizabeth Kunzelman, PA director at Petland Inc. shared, "We just want to show our customers that we’re taking every precaution possible to make sure that they’re safe, that our employees are safe and that our pets are safe."
- A joint presentation by the American Pet Products Association, the Pet Industry Distributors Association, and the World Pet Association determined that the best way for brick-and-mortar pet food retailers to recover is to communicate with consumers and establish inroads for current and future business operations.
Shift in Work Patterns
- The US government has listed the pet food industry as vital to the country's public health and safety during the Covid-19 crisis.
- This allows the industry to continue operations in light of the government lockdown.
- 18% of surveyed pet food businesses said they allowed eligible employees to start working from home.
- 16% reported taking precautionary health measures for employees unable to work remotely, such as taking temperatures every day.
- 11% said they stopped all business travel and limited facility access to eligible employees only.
- Manufacturers reported staggering shifts and breaks in compliance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.
- Companies also reported increasing hourly wages for production workers and rolling out training for coronavirus procedures.
- Pet food companies halted onboarding of new clients and employee applications during this time.
- Businesses are exploring alternative shipping and delivery options to minimize contact and exposure.
- Companies also reported reducing sales calls while increasing production rates to cope with heightened demand.
- Only 5% of pet food manufacturers said they did not implement any changes or adjustments in response to the Covid-19 situation.