Pet food market has been resilient to the economic downturn in UK. In UK one in every two household owns a pet, thus around 12 mn households own pets. The total pet population in 2011 is estimated to be close to 22 mn (excluding fish). Dogs (8 mn) and cats (8 mn) are the most popular pets among the population. As more and more people in the country live alone, they have started considering pets as part of their family. This is one of the key drivers for the growth of the market. This not only drives the number of pets but also the money spent in pet care (food, vet, medicine, others). 

UK pet food market has been growing at a steady rate. The pet food market for dogs and cats is valued between GBP 2.25 to GBP 2.5 billion. The market has been growing at 4-5% on an year on year basis for last 5 years. The growth even continued during recession.

Key trends in UK pet food market

  1. Moist food dominates the cat feed. Moist food accounts for less than 20% of the cat food in terms of volume.
  2. Dry food has overtaken moist food in case of dog feed. Dry food accounted for just 16% of the dog food in 1987 but has now has dominant share in the feed.
  3. Unlike US, in UK pet care products are predominately sold through supermarkets and hypermarkets
  4. Internet is expected to become an important channel for pet care product sales in future
  5. While consumers are aware of the benefits of organic food, this has not translated into development of market for such products yet.

Key players in UK pet food market

Mars and Nestle Purnia are the market leaders in the pet food market in UK. Some other key players in the market are:

  1. Mars UK Ltd. (market leader)
  2. Nestle Purina Ltd. (market leader)
  3. Butchers Pet Care Ltd.
  4. Tesco Plc
  5. Hill’s Pet Nutrition Ltd.
  6. Pets at Home Ltd.
  7. Town & Country Petfoods Ltd.
  8. J Sainsbury
  9. Wagg Foods Ltd

Key brands in UK pet food market

UK pet food market is not dominated by any brand and pet owners buy variety of brands based on price, type and nutrition value. Some of the major brands are:

  1. Whiskas
  2. Felix
  3. Pedigree
  4. Tesco
  5. Bakers
  6. Winalot
  7. Go Cat
  8. HiLife
  9. Kitekat

Opportunities in UK pet food market

  1. Health food: Healthy pet food is a niche market currently but given the general trend towards health and wellness and increasing closeness between pet and their owners, it is expected to expand in future.
  2. Internet delivery model: Firms, especially medium and small size can compete with extensive presence and supply chains of large players by using internet based delivery model.