Friday, May 17, 2013

Burt's Bees Expands Product Line Into Dog Care

Maker of natural personal care products Burt's Bees has entered the pet industry by extending its products to dogs. Grooming and oral care dog products in the Natural Pet Care line, including shampoos, maintain the same standards as their human counterparts, for example containing no phthalates or synthetic fragrances.

By leveraging existing strengths (and love of pets), the company should benefit from this move. Historically, pet trends follow human ones, especially in health. In the pet industry itself, preventive care, holistic treatments and natural products have all seen healthy growth over the last few years.

Disclaimer: as a consumer of Burt's Bees products, I'm biased and can't wait to try these out.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A new breed of pet health care company

Perrigo Company (PRGO), maker of generic over-the-counter drugs like Claritin, Sudafed and Nyquil, has bought its way into the pet industry by acquiring Sergeant's and PetArmor, adding two OTC flea & tick brands to its portfolio, plus a wide range of products for dogs, cats, birds and small animals.

Veterinary spending has increased steadily over the last decade, reaching $17 billion in 2011. These days, pet diagnostic and treatment options can cost thousands of dollars, and consumer demand for lower cost alternatives has skyrocketed.

Historically, pet trends mirror human trends, and preventive health, over-the-counter pet meds, and holistic therapies have thrived in this environment.

Capitalizing on this consumer demand should allow Perrigo to capture market share from Merial's established Frontline brand. But the company will also compete in other segments; its new range of pet products is wide and includes flea & tick sprays, powders, shampoos and home cleaners, skin & coat, ear and joint care therapies, pheromone-based collars, and toys and accessories.


Monday, March 11, 2013

Pet Industry 2013 Strategic Outlook

See U.S. market sizes of pet food, veterinary services, supplies and pet services, sliced by demographic group. Includes pet owner spending demographics, core trends and analysis on fragmentation, the retail landscape, changes in the food and vet industries, and opportunities moving forward.

This report provides key spending trends by age, income and household composition that are driving the pet industry. It contains actionable intelligence to help your business, marketing or product development initiatives. Learn more or buy securely here

For instance, the above table shows both overall ($2.4 billion) and segment market sizes for pet owners who have a child younger than six years old. These new families used to be part of a core demographic group with children in the 'pet acquisition years' that can engender loyalty to a brand. These customers continue to increase spending, particularly on food and at the vet.


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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

PetSmart Q3 2012

PetSmart, Inc. (NASDAQ:PETM) last week reported strong 3rd quarter results for 2012, booking $82 million in net income on $1.6 billion in sales, up 9%. Comparable store sales grew 6.5%. Services sales grew 8% to $175 million.

The company credits its hard goods resets over the past two years for continued differentiation in a competitive industry, supplying a mix of exclusive brands - including GNC, KONG and Martha Stewart - and private labels like Top Paw that align with consumer demand. Hard goods made up for 33.1% of sales.

In consumables, which accounted for 53.9% of sales, super-premium continues to be the largest and fastest growing category.

Services accounted for 10.7% of sales. Pet services like grooming, boarding and veterinary care are an "integral part" of PetSmart's strategy to further differentiate it from the competition, drive traffic and repeat visits to the stores, and provide cross-selling opportunities.

PetSmart adapts well to fast-changing consumer trends and loyalties, which can't be easy with 1,269 stores. Illustrating the humanization trend, the company has increased television advertising spending for the holiday season, jumping on the Black Friday shopping spree with specific ads, and soon to launch a 12 Days of Christmas ad campaign.

Feeling good in the U.S., the company is "dipping a toe in the water" in Asia with a "low-risk learning exercise" in South Korea with Emart.

Source: PetSmart Investor Relations

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Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Pet Food Trends Learn to Stay

On a recent visit to my local pet food store, I noticed a sign alerting customers that they will no longer be selling Iams, Hills Science Diet, Eukanuba, or any other dog and cat food that does not meet their pet food ingredient standards.

This would not be surprising from a small mom 'n pop store, but from Pet Food Express - the 5th largest pet specialty retailer in the U.S. - it is an eye opener.

A few years ago, it would have been impossible to run a successful pet food retail chain while ignoring top-selling brands from Proctor & Gamble (NYSE:PG), Colgate-Palmolive (NYSE:CL), Nestle (ETR:NESR), and Mars (a privately owned company).

These days, however, consumer demand for higher quality pet food mirrors human food trends. Driven by recall after recall of imported and US-based foods, consumers are demanding less diluted and more pure ingredients. Especially for dogs, whose natural diet does not require large amounts of carbohydrates, these owners can easily perceive glutens, sugars and fillers to be bad.

Similarly, the human trends toward the ancestral diet, or what we're genetically inclined to eat, has its corollary in dog food, for example with breed-specific lines by Royal Canin. Also, many new and smaller brands offer a range of top-quality protein types for those selective pet parents. If a breeder recommends a salmon protein for a Lhasa Apso, for example, the owner is motivated by the wide selection to choose a good one.

Just a few of the popular dog foods sold at Pet Food Express hitting the mark for the California crowd include D.N.A., Taste of the Wild, Grandma Lucy's, Wellness, and Stella and Chewys. Together these smaller brands certainly fill up the shelves.

Pet Food Express notes that national manufacturers also offer top-of-the-line products, which are sold at their stores. However, Colgate-Palmolive's only brand is the Hill's line, so they seem out. That would also include most, if not all, Nestle brands.

But Proctor & Gamble's Natura Pet line and Mars' Royal Canin and Nutro brands make the cut, signifying how these companies have adapted to new - and apparently permanent - consumer spending habits, that emerged after the 2007 pet food recall and continue to strengthen with each news story about sickness from the food supply.

Indeed, Colgate missed the "drive toward natural" in the US, according to the Financial Times, and will reformulate and relaunch Science Diet this year ("Investors seek bigger bite of pet food," by Louise Lucas and Barney Jopson, The Financial Times, Sep 30, 2012).

Another trend, yes, but this one seems to align with innate health requirements for companion animals. Pet Food Express' decision to implement its Pet Food Ingredient Standards is emblematic of a new landscape in the highly competitive pet food industry. In other words, these trends have legs.

NB: this post covers the premium pet food market, but it should be noted that many billions of dollars are spent annually on value brands sold by Nestle, Mars, and Wal-Mart. Learn about both ends in our 2012 Pet Industry Research.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Pet Business Opportunities

Emerging Market Segments in the Pet Industry

Kudos to BusinessWeek for staying ahead of the curve by reporting on one of the emerging market segments in the pet industry (There's Never Been A Better Time to Be a Dead Pet by Eric Spitznagel, Sep 07 2012). Sometimes it's hard for businesses to get behind an idea that's hard to quantify; the article points out that it is "a growing if untracked segment of the pet care industry."

In fact, the pet death segment is on our list of best pet business opportunities for the second year straight. The aging of America, and of our pets, and increased spending, are only three of the reasons.

Cultural changes and pet owner expenditures that span multiple demographic groups have proactively created opportunities for new business ideas, and perhaps more importantly for existing businesses to tap into a multi-billion spending spree.

Check out our market research for more opportunities moving forward. Buy any report now and we'll include a confidential half-hour phone consultation.

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Monday, September 10, 2012

FDA guidelines on functional pet foods

Dog and cat food with specified health uses - or functional food - has been a booming trend in the pet industry. Although they've been around since the 1980s, there's been a recent explosion in product selection and availability outside of the veterinarian's office.

According to the FDA, "This shift in marketing directly to pet owners without veterinary direction, concerns FDA because these products are formulated for specific needs and may not be tolerated by all animals."

Read them here: FDA Animal & Veterinary


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Walmart launches wheat-free ultra-premium dog food

Walmart (NYSE:WMT) just announced its new ultra-premium dog food called Pure Balance.

Citing the faster growth rate of ultra-premium dry dog food than the value category, the company believes this product will complement the Ol' Roy brand nicely. Reuters reports that this move puts Walmart "into more direct competition" with specialty chains PetSmart (NASDAQ:PETM) and Petco (a private company).

By launching a trendy, wheat-free brand, we think this does indeed align with spending patterns exhibited by dog owners in the U.S., as outlined in our pet industry research published earlier this year.

Source: "Walmart U.S. launches its own high-end dog food," by Jessica Wohl, Reuters, Aug 14, 2012

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

FTC to Examine Pet Medications Industry

Ten years ago, pet medications were dispensed mostly by veterinarians. Today, brick-and-mortar, online retail and nationwide pharmacy chains like Kroger also sell pet meds, especially OTC medications.

As we've pointed out in earlier posts and in our pet market research over the years, the evolution of America's pet culture - and corresponding increase in spending - has fundamentally changed the distribution practices and competitive landscape of the pet medications industry. The internet economy and recent flood of generic flea & tick meds onto the market are among many changes responsible for this.

Now, the Federal Trade Commission plans to take a look in a FTC Workshop on Pet Medications Issues later this year.

Issues of competition and consumer protection will be discussed, including prescription portability, consumer choice, veterinarians rights, product supply and quality. The FTC also has questions about business rationales, innovation, and future barriers to entry into the pet medications market.

That's a lot of questions for a lot of stakeholders. This could be a very important meeting that defines the next ten years of the pet medications industry. Upon completion, the Commission may prepare a report on the issues.

Stakeholders include businesses and consumers, and are invited to comment on any of these issues to the FTC before September 14, 2012.

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Expanding pet services into real estate

Luxury dog service company The Spot Experience announced a partnership with New York-based Rose Associates to provide a full line of in-house and outdoor dog services to 4,500 residents in two dozen buildings.

This expansion aligns with consumer spending demographics on pet services, showing that over 50% of the market, or approximately $2.5bn, is supported by households making over $100,000 per year.

A unique selling value combined with a high-income buying spree sounds like a winning proposition to me. The company cites this deal as a "first" of its kind, and my guess is, not the last.

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Friday, June 15, 2012

Is Your Business Pet-Friendly? Why Not?

A good article by SmartMoney Magazine on pet travel also highlights how diverse businesses profit by leveraging their existing pet-owning customer base.

Airlines, hotels, restaurants and retailers like Orvis are mentioned.

Check it out: "Pack Mentality: More People Than Ever Are Traveling With Pets," by Anne Kadet, SmartMoney Magazine, June 13, 2012

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Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Dog Days of Summer TV

Strong pet industry spending over the last few years is reflected in entertainment media as TV, film and other content providers market to the appealing demographics of dog owners.

Press reports indicate that CBS, Disney, Time Warner and Discovery Communications are all launching dog-related television shows this year ("TV cameras trained on dogs during summer 2012", by Sue Manning, Associated Press, May 29, 2012).

The common theme of rescue dogs, shelter dogs, and misbehaving dogs taps into the deep emotional bond that drives many pet parents to extreme levels of dedication and spending. And more media focus proactively creates new marketing and advertising channels.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Baby Boomer Pet Spending

A key driver of pet industry growth is the aging of America. These tables show the percent of spending on each segment, and how that mix has changed over 5 years.

Baby boomer spending trends are evident in the data as they purchase a larger slice of the $50 billion pie each year. Comparing older and younger demographic groups clearly highlights the direction of consumer spending on pets in the U.S.

Many more of these tables, plus charts and analysis by Dillon Media, are available in the latest Pet Industry 2012 Strategic Outlook, dissecting the industry by age range, income bracket, family composition and region.

This report is a great resource for companies that market to pet owners on a nationwide basis.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Will this fish tank spill over?

A four-story, 5,500 gallon aquarium as planned by soccer star Thierry Henry, who is the latest in a line of millionaires installing extravagant fish tanks in their homes.

Holding 300 fish, this tank will cost almost $400,000 to build, according to the Daily Mail

This aquarium will be the latest and greatest among celebrities including Madonna, the Beckhams, and Cher.

Considering there are 151 million freshwater fish owned as pets in the U.S. alone, maybe this trend will spill over into the consumer mass market.


Monday, January 30, 2012

Kroger Offers Prescription Pet Meds

Kroger is now offering pet medications at its pharmacies nationwide, with many covered under its $4 generic program, according to the Houston Chronicle. "Four legs or two, same pharmacy," by David Kaplan, Houston Chronicle, January 23, 2012 It's a good article, pointing out how this is the natural evolution of the veterinary industry.

Target is piloting a similar program in 670 pharmacies, but Kroger is already full-steam ahead in it's over 1,900 pharmacies in the U.S. Already under pressure from the economy and other factors, it seems veterinarians can't rely on the old business model moving forward and will need to adapt.

On the flip side, this new mass marketing will benefit many segments of the pet industry and satisfy consumer demand for value pricing of prescription (human and) pet meds.


Friday, December 30, 2011

Pet Services Demographics Support the Trends

A good article on pet services by CNBC highlights consumer demand for comprehensive dog care solutions. High-End Doggy Day Care: No Downsizing For Fido

Combining health-related products with a comprehensive suite of services is a growing trend in pet retail. These pet owners can be stickier than in other segments, spending more money per visit and coming back more often than shoppers in the other pet segments. Consumer spending demographics give a clue as to why: the segment is widely bought by higher income pet owners. For example, over 50% of nationwide pet services spending was by households making over $100,000 per year.

If you operate a pet business, check out our upcoming 2012 pet industry research.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Hurtta dog wear finally available in the U.S.

Popular outdoor dog apparel from the Finnish company Hurtta is now available in the U.S.

Pennsylvania-based Abel Pet Supply has a selection of these popular and functional raincoats, jackets and fleece available online, and just in time for winter.


Sunday, December 04, 2011

Emerging pet trends

A new study illustrates the health benefits of owning a pet, finding pet owners have greater self esteem, are more physically fit, and more extraverted than non pet owners. Unlike most studies that simply add a pet to the equation to find a benefit but no causality, this one compares pet owners to non pet owners across these metrics.

Apparently pet owners also own a lot of gadgets. A demographic profile of iPad owners reveals that their most common traits are being male, owning pets, and playing video games.

Speaking of gadgets, BusinessWeek notes that chipmaker Qualcomm is entering the consumer market with Tagg, a GPS locator for your dog. A $200 clip on product with a year of free service (on the Verizon network), the device alerts you if your dog leaves a predefined area. Since the broader effort envisions everyday gadgets and appliances wired up using their chips, this product could help evolve the Qualcomm brand.

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

PetSmart Q3 2011

PetSmart, Inc. (NASDAQ:PETM) reported strong quarterly earnings yesterday, highlighting increasing store traffic, organic and natural dog food sales, and services revenue.

Total sales in the third quarter increased 8% to $1.5 billion, of which services accounted for $161 million, up 9%. Comparable same-store sales grew 6.1%, based in part on a 2.2% increase in traffic.

High-end dog food brands like Innova, Wellness and Blue Buffalo were key differentiators, bringing in customers and driving sales.

(This is in contrast to Wal-Mart's recent strength in value brand sales. Why? Because about half the dog food market is bought by households making less than $70,000 in annual income, and that half is also growing year-over-year. In fact, strong increases in pet food spending were recently made by households making only $15,000 - $39,000 per year. So it seems there's plenty of room for both value and premium brands to thrive. Check out our pet market research to learn more.)

"Sustained momentum" on exclusive partnerships with Martha Stewart and GNC helped "moved the bar" on proprietary brands from 18 to 22%. In 2012 the company will launch exclusive Toys R' Us pet toys.

The first national television ad campaign for services in a decade was cited as responsible for increases in customer growth, retention and satsifaction for the grooming business.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Pets and Wal-Mart's Growth Strategy

It seems as though Wal-Mart Stores, Inc (NYSE:WMT) will continue to leverage the pet industry in its own expansion plans. Besides selling Ol' Roy dog food for years, the company has particularly benefitted since a 2005 expansion of pet products online, and a 2006 launch of its own private label organic dog food.

According to Q3 2012 results, the pet supply business was "strong," showing high single-digit comps, in stark contrast to categories like home care and baby care, which had negative comparable store sales. The company states that "assortment initiatives" in the consumables pet category are making a large impact. The dog food category improved 300 basis points in part due to their value brands.

So its no surprise the company is folding pet supplies into its Neighborhood Markets concept now being rolled out across the country. These smaller stores resemble grocery stores, carrying produce, meat and dairy, dry goods, pharmaceuticals, health and beauty products, and pet supplies.

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Friday, May 27, 2011

PetSmart Q1 2011

PetSmart Inc (PETM) reported strong first quarter 2011 results, booking net income of $71 million on $1.5 billion in revenues, with earnings up 33%. The company reported comparable store sales growth of 5%, services sales growth of 9%, and total sales up 6.8%.

Super premium pet food and services seem to be primary drivers of the customer to the store. The company believes it has captured 15% of the $3.6 billion annual market for grooming and boarding services. Further, the company notes strong sales in grooming supplies, and points to exclusive Martha Stewart and GNC branded product launches.

PetSmart has recently matured efforts to drive the customer into cross-selling and defined channel strategies, as well as adding higher margin private label brands into the mix. A good combination in the highly competitive pet industry.

Source: PetSmart Investor Relations

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Pet Industry 2011 Strategic Outlook

A new market research report for pet industry business development is available for purchase online.

U.S. consumer spending continued to grow across all four segments of the pet industry, cementing its reputation as "recession resistant." But shifting demographics reveal changing patterns by core demographic groups. U.S. pet owner spending by age, income, higher income, household composition, and region are charted, with an Executive Summary by Dillon Media.

The Pet Industry 2011 Strategic Outlook analyzes nationwide spending, trends and business involvement in the industry, including how it fared during the recession and opportunities moving forward. The data aggregate consumer spending on all pets in four main segments: Pet Food, Veterinary Services, Pet Purchase Supplies & OTC Meds, and Pet Services.

The latest available data are from 2009, with forecasts through 2015. This report is valuable to participants in the nationwide pet retail market, for business plan citations, for product development strategy, for marketing and advertising plans, and for an overview of the pet industry landscape.

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Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Eye-catching dog food marketing

The digital video camera used to film this dog food commercial shoots full HD at 1500 fps. What does that mean? It means we see detail and movement imperceptible to the human eye in realtime.

The same camera was used to shoot slow motion Super Bowl footage, and used by NASA to study parachute deployments. Here, its used by Pedigree to sell dog food, marketing a new perspective to pet owners.

For more slow motion videos, check out


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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Sanofi Wins Dogfight for Merial

Sanofi-Aventis SA will acquire the remaining 50% of the animal-health business Merial from Merck & Co, according to Bloomberg. Global animal drug sales - mostly livestock but also pets - were estimated to grow 7.2% to $19.2 billion in 2008 by Vetnosis Ltd.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Animal Health Care News and Forecast

Consolidation in big pharma is changing the landscape of the companion animal health market. Merck (NYSE:MRK) and Schering Plough (NYSE:SGP) will combine their respective animal health companies Merial and Intervet. Pfizer's (NYSE:PFE) acquisition of Wyeth (NYSE:WYE) includes Fort Dodge, which combined with Pfizer Animal Health would form the largest animal drug provider in the world. According to Pfizer's first quarter 2009 results, the company has "had productive discussions with the [FTC] regarding the possible divestiture of some animal health products." So it seems part or all of Fort Dodge may be for sale.

What do these mergers mean for growth in veterinary services and pet care spending? Competing products may disappear, jobs may be lost, and supply chains may be disrupted. For instance, in fiscal year 2008, MWI Veterinary supply (NASDAQ:MWIV), Pfizer products accounted for 23% of sales, Fort Dodge 12%, Merial 60% and Intervet 9%.

On the flip side, however, it's clear that pet (and livestock) drugs have become an important part of the new diversified business models of big pharma. Pfizer plans to give the group "more autonomy" and global moves imply additional investment as well. Pfizer Animal Health does business in 60 countries and in the first quarter of 2009 opened a new Shanghai office, expressed interest in acquiring an Indian veterinary health company, and announced new product launches in certain countries.

Long term consumer spending forecasts on veterinary services, prescription and over-the-counter drugs are quite positive. We estimate veterinary services spending to grow 4% in 2009 and 8% in 2010, reaching $16.4 billion by 2011, compared to $13.6 billion in 2007. Compelling demographics will drive future growth. In 2003, the $8 billion spent on vet services was split 50/50 by pet owners making less than $70,000 per year and those making more than $70,000 per year. But by 2007 almost $14 billion was spent, and that ratio changed to 28/72, favoring higher income consumers. Married couples without children are the biggest spenders at the vet, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, spending over $4.5 billion in 2007 alone.


Thursday, April 09, 2009

Dog Friendly Car Unleashed by Honda

Honda showed off the Dog Friendly Honda Element concept car at the New York Auto Show today, with integrated dog amenities and safety equipment including restraints, hardy fabrics, an access ramp, a cushioned bed, a spill-resistant water bowl and dedicated doggie cooling system.

Appealing to the broad spectrum of dog owners who increasingly treat their pets like family definitely separates this model of the Element from the pack.

Honda has been developing its pet-themed marketing since 2005, when it launched a dog friendly concept car at the Tokyo Motor Show. Soon after, the company launched Honda Dog in Japan, pitching cars and its Travel Dog line of pet accessories to its 1.5 million monthly visitors.

Not to be outdone, Toyota also has a Japanese website for dog owners featuring the Corolla called C Loves Dog.

Closer to home, helps American pet parents choose the best pet-friendly cars, by reviewing new models specifically from a dog owner's perspective.


Saturday, April 04, 2009

Pet Industry Market Research 2009

The Pet Industry 2009 Strategic Outlook report from Dillon Media LLC has been published.

This market research report charts and analyzes aggregate pet owner spending demographics in the U.S., covering the four main industry segments: Pet Food, Veterinary Services, Pet Supplies and Pet Services.

It includes forecasts and analysis of the recession's impact on pet industry trends and consumer behavior.

Pet owner spending demographics are charted by income, age, general region and family composition from 2000 - 2007 (the latest available) with totals forecasts for 2008 - 2011. Data are from the Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, forecasts are by Dillon Media.

The critical higher income brackets are also included for available years.

Published: Feb 18, 2009
Format: Adobe PDF file
Delivery: Emailed to you within 2 hours of purchase.

Why Buy It?
Align your product, customer or business with the strongest demographic groups in the U.S. pet industry. Read more and buy online: Pet Industry 2009 Strategic Outlook

Thursday, March 05, 2009

PetSmart Q4 and Fiscal Year 2008 Results

PetSmart, Inc. (NASDAQ:PETM) announced $5.07 billion in net sales in 2008, up from $4.67 billion in 2007. Comparable store sales grew 3.8 percent in 2008, and pet services continued to stand out, growing 15.8 percent in 2008 to $526.7 million. The year 2007 had one extra week added to the fiscal year in the fourth quarter.

During the fourth quarter of 2008, pet services sales grew 6.9 percent. Net income for the fourth quarter was $78.4 million, compared to $75.4 million for the fourth quarter of 2007.

PetSmart is the nation's largest pet specialty retailer with over 1,000 stores in the U.S., and announced a more cautious approach to new store openings in 2009, in line with the prevailing mood these days about the rest of this year. In 2008 the company opened just over 100 stores and 45 new PetsHotels, on par with the previous couple of years. For 2009, however, the company plans to open 40 to 42 new stores and 20 new PetsHotels, or about a 60% reduction in new store openings and a 50% reduction on new pet hotels.

These results and the 2009 outlook confirm, in our opinion, that pet spending will be impacted, but to a lesser degree than consumer spending in many other industries.

Read more and listen to the PetSmart, Inc. conference call.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Pet Owner Buying Habits Changing

Even though pets may be toward the bottom of the list of things to cut back on, consumers are still forced to rethink many pet industry purchases these days. Pet food sales seemed to survive mid-2008 price increases and reduced portion sizes, but other segments may not be so lucky as consumers cut back on optional products and services.

The New York Times reports on the do-it-yourself (DIY) trend among consumers, how it's affecting services businesses, including pet care services, and how retailers like Target are adjusting marketing strategies to meet this rapid change in consumer behavior. (Outsourced Chores Come Back Home, by Catherine Rampell, The New York Times, Jan 19, 2009).

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Helmsley's Trust Leaves Billions of Dollars To Dogs

In June, a New York judge reduced the amount of money available to Leona Helmsley's dog, Trouble, from $12 million to $2 million, ordering the remaining $10 million to go to her charitable foundation.

But the New York Times reports that the charitable trust has been assigned to the care and welfare of dogs, according to a mission statement that may or may not be legally binding. Being the only clear direction for the donor's intent, however, means that the entire trust, valued at $5 to $8 billion, may indeed go to the dogs ("Helmsley Left Dogs Billions in Her Will," by Stephanie Strom, The New York Times, July 2, 2008).

May I suggest outlets that uniquely benefit both dogs and humans, such as service dog programs, public assistance through HSUS and ASPCA funding, a national disaster fund (FEMA for pets), veterinary student grants, a centralized database linking CDC, vets, FDA and the public, and research that also benefits humans?


Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Pet Business Trade Shows

Attending a Pet Industry Tradeshow?
Dillon Media can help with booth design, web and print marketing material. Learn more...

Global Pet Expo 2009
Feb 12-14, Orlando, Florida
Presented by the top industry manufacturers and distributors' trade organizations, over 800 companies will launch dog, cat, bird, aquatic and small animal products at this show.

H.H. Backer Winter 2008 Trade Show
Oct 3-5, Rosemont (Chicago), Illinois
New this year is an expanded aquatics section and an All-Natural area of the tradeshow, featuring eco-friendly and green pet products.

Pet Fashion Week 2008
Aug 23-24, New York City.
A smaller trade show focusing on fashion, Pet Fashion Week has quickly grown in the last two years and now includes an annual show in Tokyo. The market in Japan remains strong for luxury dog collars, apparel and supplies.

Pet South America is an international trade show for the Latin American market
Sep 17-19, Sao Paulo, Brazil

Pet Fair Asia has grown steadily over the last couple of years, from 280 to 350 exhibitors. It seems international visitors are interested in the export market; that is, sourcing, manufacturing and shipping from China.
Sep 3-5, Shanghai, China

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Toyota and Honda Dog-Friendly Cars

Honda's dog-friendly concept car introduced in 2005 has evolved into a comprehensive marketing campaign that is creating sales in Japan, according to Reuters ("Dog-lovers of the world unite...around Honda," by Chang Ran-Kim, Reuters, May 29, 2008).

Honda Dog uses its 1.5 million monthly website visitors to sell cars and its Travel Dog line of pet accessories.

Not to be outdone, Toyota also has a Japanese website for dog owners featuring the Corolla called C Loves Dog.

In case you don't read Japanese, it's still fun to click around these sites. I assume it's just a matter of time until the U.S. versions come out as the auto industry aggressively seeks to differentiate products while appealing to broad demographics.

Closer to home, helps American pet parents choose the best pet-friendly cars, by reviewing new models specifically from a dog owner's perspective.

Read all posts about dog cars.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Business Resources

The largest trade organization in the industry, the APPMA has updated their website with some valuable information for pet businesses and about the pet industry.

Check out the new blog written by Bob Vetere, president of the American Pet Products Manufacturer's Association. This should be a good way to stay informed about the latest trends and issues.


Monday, May 05, 2008

Pet Business News

VCA Antech, Inc. (NASDAQ:WOOF) reported a profitable first quarter of 2008 as it continues to acquire animal hospitals and grow its laboratory business. Although elective procedures tend to diminish when consumers cut back, this strength highlights the fact that the bar is moving; some services once considered elective are now being considered necessities. VCA seems to be on its way to becoming the managed care company for pets, primarily dogs and cats.

Utilizing the pet industry to differentiate a business in a crowded market has been a popular strategy the last few years. Check out Peninsula House Hound dog-friendly real estate website, with features like 'Search Homes Near Dog Parks'.

Anyone watch Nascar this weekend? Dog food marketing is big business in the U.S., and Mars, Inc.'s Pedigree brand is prominently featured on Kyle Busch's number 18 car. This sports sponsorship by Mars draws an average of about 6 million viewers per race, according to ACNielsen ratings for April and May of 2008. But the company didn't stop there; Mars' Nascar marketing campaign is directly tied to its adoption drive, illustrating the importance of the adoption channel for generating long-term brand loyalty in the pet sector.

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Ralph Lauren Dog Accessories

More than four years after introducing a popular dog polo shirt and cashmere sweater, Ralph Lauren now boasts 16 different dog accessories, including a wider range of trendy shirts, a hoodie, a trench coat, and leather collars and leashes.

Catering to the broad swath of American consumers that own dogs, every retail store allows dogs. And the company's website has vastly improved since I last blogged about it three years ago.

It seems to be a solid strategy to appeal to certain pet parents, with dog products and marketing co-ordinated at the retail level and online. This picture, for instance, is for a human tote bag sold on a Mother's Day page.

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Sunday, April 06, 2008

Pet Vacuum Cleaners

Browsing Williams-Sonoma's website, I noticed a $799 Miele Dog & Cat vacuum cleaner, made specifically to handle pet hair.

It seems the response to pet owner demographics, or at least Consumer Reports testing in 2006, has been swift, with pet-specific lines now available from Bissell, Eureka and Dyson, all retailing for under $200.

Two-thirds of American households own a pet of some sort. Forty percent of U.S. households own a dog. That's a large market, with lots of pet hair, suitable for an expensive dog & cat vac. Eight hundred bucks is a lot for a vacuum cleaner, but they are really nice. Even the lowest-end Miele model (the one I own) is fantastic.

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Friday, February 29, 2008

Home Depot To Stop Selling Pet Products

Home improvement retailer The Home Depot, Inc. (NYSE: HD) plans to stop selling pet products in 2008. Overall, the company reported it's first ever yearly sales decline in 2007 yesterday, so perhaps it's wise to re-focus on core competencies. Especially with the state of the housing market.

Home Depot's pet product selection was highly limited in scope and brand selection anyway, with no dog houses, beds, indoor barriers, ramps or other common products a pet owner often adds to a home. Even so, this move signals a broader theme that may play out again soon: large retailers cutting back on pet products discretionary to their business models, but not necessarily to the consumer.


Monday, February 18, 2008

Pet Owner Spending Trends in the U.S.

A new report has just been published on nationwide pet owner spending trends.

The aging population, childless consumers and the ascendancy of high-income baby boomers are analyzed by their pet spending habits. Charts and tables are included using data from the Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics that highlight core trends in U.S. consumer spending by income, age, general region, and family composition.

The Pet Industry 2008 Strategic Outlook is our annual report, written for businesses marketing to pet owners.

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Friday, February 01, 2008

Standard & Poor's Take on the Pet Industry

In a research note upgrading PetSmart (PETM) today, Standard & Poor's Equity Research notes "while we expect a slowdown in consumer spending to impact sales of discretionary pet supplies, we continue to believe underlying demographic trends for the industry remain very strong." Well put.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Looking Toward 2008

The pet industry has been called recession-resistant by many people, myself included, as it stood up to economic shocks in 2002 and again in 2005 after hurricane Katrina.

This year may test that theory, however. A decade of strong growth has created some fluff in an industry that has been growing like a balloon, in every direction at once. Balloon, bubble...we think slowing growth or contraction in certain segments is inevitable in 2008.

Sure, pet owners will continue to spend money on their companions in tough times, but on what? The latest available data from the Department of Labor show spending on pet purchases and supplies declined 20% in 2006 from the year before, while the other segments of food, services and veterinary services grew but at a much slower pace.

Just like humans, spending constraints will probably result in cutting out non-essential products and services, but with some interesting twists. Higher income demographics are supporting more and more of the industry each year.

Two new reports on U.S. pet owner spending are out.

How much money Americans spend on pet food by age, income, region and family composition.

How much we spend at the vet each year.

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Pet Owner Spending by Income

The latest available data from the Labor Department show the first decline in pet industry spending in over 10 years.

Check out the new report Pet Industry Spending by Income which includes new 2007 and 2008 forecasts by Dillon Media and charts of expenditures on all segments by income bracket through 2006.


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Pet Trade Shows

It's trade show season for the pet industry. This list will be updated throughout the year as schedules are finalized and websites go online, so bookmark it and check back.

Global Pet Expo 2008
Feb 14-16, San Diego, California
Presented by the top industry manufacturers and distributors' trade organizations, over 800 companies will launch pet products at this show.

H.H. Backer Spring 2008 Trade Show
May 16-18, Baltimore, Maryland
Traditionally in Atlantic City, show organizers moved this event to Baltimore, citing improved logistics and metropolitan city services for the participants.

Interzoo 2008
May 22-25, Nurnberg, Germany
Floor space is already 85% sold as of this post date. This biennial international pet trade show drew almost 1,300 companies from 56 nations in 2006, and 2008 should be even better.

Attending a Tradeshow?
Dillon Media can help with booth design and marketing material. Learn more...

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Friday, August 17, 2007

Dog Friendly Cars

These days, consumers are taking pets into consideration when making large purchasing decisions, and the market has responded.

Last year, home and garden stores and catalogues, as well as custom home builders, ramped up marketing to pet owners, and now, a new company helps dog owners buy a new car. reviews new automobiles from a dog owners perspective. Dog friendly cars tend to be roomy: SUVs, trucks, wagons, hatchbacks and crossovers, and there are some pleasant surprises on the site like the Suzuki Forenza and Honda Fit reviews.

Surveys indicate up to 50% of dog owners consider a pet's needs when buying a new car.

[Update Jan 2008] is seeking advertisers for its new website. Check them out to reach a niche market of high income pet owners in the market for a new car.

Read all posts about dog cars.


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Thursday, August 02, 2007

Handmade Leather Dog Collars

A small company poised for growth is Paco Collars. Run by leather artisans and dog owners, they create and sell custom and handmade leather dog collars. These collars are beautiful but also highly functional, with tapered neck widths for smaller dogs and multiple sturdy leash attachments. Each order is handmade to each dog's specifications and takes 6-8 weeks for delivery. The company also sells leashes that match the collar in color, leather and brass or silver hardware.

The depth of commitment to the human-animal bond (and to the customer) is on display, from the initial order process to a lifetime guarantee on parts. When the dog passes the company can make the collar into a bracelet for the owner.

When asked who's buying these expensive collars, founder Ana Poe responded, "The one really interesting trend that we've found in our sales is that there is no one demographic that's buying. When we think we've got the consumer pegged, there's a whole new crop of people that surprise us.  Rich, poor, young, old, you name it and they're buying."

Maybe this widespread appeal is why a Paco Collar was recently spotted in a television ad for Proctor & Gamble's Febreze air fresheners.

It seems Paco Collars is well-positioned in the pet industry as it moves forward. By offering premium, well-designed, custom products to pet parents across demographic groups, the company is aligned with core trends in spending and consumer behavior.

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Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Pet Economy

BusinessWeek dedicates its August cover story to Americans' spending spree on pets. The article has lots of great pet industry statistics. For instance half of all dog owners consider the pet's comfort when buying a car.

The Pet Economy, by Diane Brady and Christopher Palmeri, BusinessWeek, August 6 2007.

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Friday, July 20, 2007

Petco Expands Services Offerings

Petco announced a partnership with today, adding in-home pet sitting services to its lineup. While PetSmart (NASDAQ:PETM) focuses on bringing the customer to the store for daycare and PetsHotels, where they subsequently load up on high-margin tennis balls and the like, Petco is going in the other direction, extending its reach directly into the consumer's home. Here's the press release.

Photo: PR Newswire Photo Service/


Marketing Pet Services?
The Pet Industry 2008 Strategic Outlook is an affordable market research report on current and emerging trends and demographics for pet businesses.

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Friday, June 29, 2007

Kansas City Animal Health Corridor

Last year's unique initiative by Kansas City to attract animal health companies keeps paying off. MWI Veterinary Supply, Inc. (NASDAQ:MWIV) based in Idaho is the most recent company to sign up, announcing plans to open a 105,000 square foot distribution facility in the area.

In fact, the KC Animal Health Corridor contributes 32 percent of total sales in the $15.2 billion global animal health market by hosting company divisions including Bayer HealthCare, Hill's Pet Nutrition, Del Monte and Cargill.

Pet health has become one of the driving trends in the industry. Even though pharmaceutical companies have been in the animal health segment for years, there's been a recent acceleration in interest, as previously reported in this blog and on our company website.

A good article on the subject: "Big Pharma Chases Dogs and Cats," by Rachel Petkewich, Chemical & Engineering News, June 25 2007.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Central Garden & Pet

Central Garden & Pet Co. (NASDAQ:CENT) may be rapidly losing interest in acquiring some assets of Spectrum Brands, Inc. (NYSE:SPC), according to the Financial Times. Bad news continues to dog both companies. Central Garden & Pet experienced "softness" in lawn and garden as well as pet retail sales in April and May, and told investors to expect results below expectations ("Spectrum Brands could face new complications to asset sale process, sources say," by Aja Whitaker-Moore, Financial Times, June 13 2007).


Friday, June 15, 2007

Sony Hopes The Puppies Will Help

On the paws of successful titles like Nintendogs and Sims2 Pets, it's become clear: pets in video games attract women. Nintendo credited its game for attracting female market share, and Sims2 Pets sold over 3 million units in three months (which is a good number for a video game, by the way).

The New York Times reported this week that Sony Online Entertainment, in trying to diversify the demographic profile of its 85% male customer base, has added puppies to its new release, Free Realms.

Marketed toward girls, the game is free but relies on paid registration and microtransactions like buying virtual pets. Puppies, that is. Apparently the male design team wanted pets with fighting capabilities until someone came to their senses ("Sony's Other Games Division Makes Push in New Direction," by Seth Schiesel, New York Times, June 11, 2007).

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Pet Food Recall: Week 7 Update

Seven weeks later, the pet food recall keeps growing. It's already exposed massive holes in the US food chain, including intentional contamination overseas that apparently has been going on for years, and a stunning lack of inspection procedures on both food and nonfood imports at US ports.

The only reason melamine was detected at all may be due to its chemical reaction with another contaminant in the pet food, cyanuric acid. Each of these falsely raises the protein content of wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate. Each chemical alone may not kill a dog or cat, but the combination of the two apparently does, forming crystalline structures that block kidney function.

Leftover bad pet food was sold to farms. Health officials at FDA and USDA say a minimum of 2.5 million chickens ate contaminated feed and entered the human food chain in February.

I believe that means we ate them.

While acknowledging they have no idea how this combo-contaminant impacts human health, with or without 'dilution' factors, they refuse to recall any chicken or pork that may be left on shelves or in freezers around the country.

Forget trying to stay up to date on FDA's website. They are too slow adding newly recalled brands in a timely fashion, which is frankly pathetic for a health issue. It takes one web monkey 5 minutes to update a webpage, not 5 hours or 5 days. In fact, I am training monkeys to type right now, and will send them off to help the FDA with this task in the morning.
Itchmo's List of All Recalled Cat and Dog Food
The Pet Food List

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced an amendment to the FDA Reauthorization Bill strengthening human and pet food monitoring, labeling and inspection standards. The Reauthorization Bill, S.1082, is now on the Senate floor.

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Friday, April 20, 2007

Barking at Google

Sometimes being independent sucks. Having no investments in any of the pet industry companies I write about gives my company legitimacy and allows me to maintain a truly independent market research firm.

But watching companies like VCA Antech Inc. (NASDAQ:WOOF) grow over the last four years sometimes makes me jealous. VCA Antech outperformed Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) over the last 12 months.

Note the interesting inverse relationship between these two very different companies as they rise. Click on the chart to enlarge.

Interested in the Pet Industry?
Check out the Pet Industry 2008 Strategic Outlook for an independent overview of emerging pet owner demographic and spending trends.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

PetSmart, Inc. Nears All-Time High

PetSmart, Inc. (NASDAQ:PETM) celebrated its 20th anniversary this month by announcing a three cent dividend, payable on May 11, 2007, to shareholders of record at the close of business on April 27, 2007.

The stock is quickly approaching its highest point in 140 years. Dog years, that is.

Another company well-positioned after two decades in the pet business is VCA Antech, which also celebrated its 20th this year, as noted in an earlier post.

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Bad Pet Food Kills Thousands of Cats and Dogs

Two groups presented data confirming a sharp spike in kidney failure from December through March. Dr. Paul Pion of the Veterinary Information Network conducted a survey of veterinarians and estimates 5,000 to 10,000 affected pets, with 1,000 to 2,000 dead. Banfield hospitals saw a 30% rise in kidney failure over the 1 million pets it treated during the same time, mostly in cats, and estimates 39,000 pets to be affected overall. Read the article here

The FDA indicated it will rely on these numbers moving forward.

In a separate development, Pet Connection points to the Marin Independent Journal reporting a top UC Davis lab identified melamine in three Nutro products not on the recall list.

And a Forbes commentary on PR damage control by pet food companies.

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Senate Hearing on Pet Food Recall

United States Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) announced a Senate oversight hearing on pet food regulations, stressing the need for stronger FDA involvement and better modes of communication between consumers, manufacturers and the government.

Here's the official announcement.

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Three Weeks Later, Recall Still Growing

The pet tragedy continues to unfold three weeks after the first public announcement on March 16. Menu Foods, the first of six companies to recall product, and after several attempts to reassure the public of its safety, today expanded the date range of its original recall.

Sunshine Mills today announced a recall of its products but failed to mention brand names. Sound familiar? Yes, that is exactly what Menu Foods did on March 16, prompting retailers to pull too many products and consumers to panic.

Tracing just one of the supply chains: the tainted wheat gluten came from unknown sources, through a known middleman in China, to a distributer in the US named ChemNutra, then to Menu Foods' two processing plants. There are other routes, possibilities and companies involved. So the difficulty in finding exactly where the contaminant entered the supply chain is obvious.

Listen to a discussion on pet food manufacturing and animal nutrition with a vet, a food safety expert and a pet food maker, from KQED Forum.

The damage to established brands is yet to be determined, but it seems clear from the news that consumer confidence has been shaken.

I can't keep up anymore.

Pet Connection can.

[update: Sunshine Mills recalled brands have been posted on their website and include Wal-Mart's (WMT) Ol' Roy Puppy Biscuit and Peanut Butter Biscuit.]

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Monday, April 02, 2007

Pet Food Recall: More Questions Than Answers

What's next? After finding traces of rat poison and large amounts of a chemical used to make plastic in over 100 brands of dog and cat food, the FDA has not ruled out finding yet more contaminants. And I imagine they will, submitting dog food to such a massive battery of tests.

USA Today has an interesting article on the pet food recall, discussing food inspection standards and recent announcements by the FDA.

To stay updated on the recall go to Pet Connection.

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

Pet Food Recall: Supplier Identified

Thanks to Pet Connection and Itchmo for digging this bone out of the media junkyard.

The FDA issued an import alert that names the supplier of tainted wheat gluten as Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology.

Itchmo has the details and points out that other companies using this importer should contact the FDA immediately.

The implications from all this bring into question the current standards for food quality, testing, importing and labeling. In a global marketplace, maybe the U.S. needs to tighten screening procedures, using data from the supplier country as the least common denominator in determining standards.

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Friday, March 30, 2007

Pet Food Recall: 2nd Chemical Found

The FDA cannot confirm the presence of aminopterin in the recalled pet foods, but announced today it found a second chemical possibly responsible for kidney failure. Melamine is a chemical used in the manufacturing of plastics, and was found in the affected wet food, in the kidneys of animals, and in the wheat gluten imported from China.

It is not clear exactly which of these chemicals, if any, is causing kidney failure in cats and dogs. The FDA also announced that a maker of dry pet food potentially received a shipment of contaminated wheat gluten. Obviously that referred to Purina and Hills, who expanded the recall to certain Alpo and Science Diet products.

CNN has an update.

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Kidney Treatment Centers for Pets

The Washington Post reports on the differences between acute and chronic kidney failure, concluding "if your pet ate any of the tainted foods recalled by Menu Foods and is not showing symptoms, that does not necessarily mean your pet is safe."

Newsweek offers an interview with an expert with an interesting perspective on issues about pet food safety and feeding dogs and cats in general.

As noted in an earlier post, the UC Veterinary Medical Center-San Diego's unit for treating acute and chronic kidney failure is one of only two veterinary clinics in California and five in the nation equipped to provide dialysis for cats and dogs.

Another source of advanced veterinary care is the University of Pennsylvania, School of Veterinary Medicine feline renal transplantation program. A cat kidney transplant costs $8,000.

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Pet Food Contaminated by Rat Poison

ABC News reports on the pet food recall:

"A source close to the investigation tells ABC News that the rodenticide, which the source says is illegal to use in the United States, was on wheat that was imported from China and used by Menu Foods in nearly 100 brands of dog and cat food."

The name of the chemical is aminopterin. A press conference is scheduled for later today by experts in New York, whose food laboratory found the contaminant.

[Update] New York State officials confirmed in a news conference that the name of the chemical is aminopterin. Menu Foods confirmed they do not know where or how it entered the supply chain to contaminate its wet foods products (see complete list at The company said it will take responsibility for pet owner bills for cases they determine are related to the recall.

Officials continue to investigate and expect the number of affected pets to increase.

The New York State Food Laboratory equipped to discover the toxin is a member of the food emergency response network setup by the Department of Homeland Security after 9/11. Aminopterin and other chemicals like Aluminum Phosphide and Ammonia are on a DHS list of extremeley hazardous substances.


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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Expect More Bad News From Pet Food Recall

Read the latest on the recall here.

March 22, 2007 - A pet food recall almost one week old continues to grow in scope. Menu Foods, the largest supplier of wet pet food in North America and private label manufacturer for widely used brands and retailers including Iams and Wal-Mart, still has not figured out the cause.

Official statements by the FDA refer to 16 pets dead, but the true number will most likely be much higher. Cat and dog owners who used the recalled brands are advised to stop immediately and go to the vet for tests. Menu Foods says it fielded 47,000 phone calls over the weekend, but most news reports tell of people unable to contact the company due to overloaded phone lines.

Sixty million packages of wet dog and cat food were recalled, representing 1% of all pet food sold in the United States. Menu Foods own tests showed an alarming mortality rate of 1 in 7, meaning 7 out of 50 animals that ate their food died. Using highly conservative numbers, Dillon Media LLC estimates a minimum number of total deaths that still has three zeros after it, as reported in The Economist. That said, it is important to remember that the vast majority of pets in America are safe.

Anecdotal evidence is beginning to back this up, with six lawsuits already reported in four US states and Canada, reports over 800 pet deaths in their self-reported database, and news organizations around the country have no problem finding affected people to interview. Many pet owners lost a cat or dog weeks ago, only realizing the cause after the recall was announced.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported this morning that the FDA is not asking vets to report suspected cases of recall-related deaths. This is a mistake. In the lightly regulated industry of pet food manufacturing, official documentation of the toll of this pet disaster will help craft the regulations and legislation that will inevitably follow. The last pet disaster - hurricane Katrina - resulted in new federal and state laws incorporating pets into disaster planning. [Update Mar 23: this FDA FAQ encourages vets to file cases]

This one exposes the manufacturer as a weak link in the chain. Few people probably knew just how many brands Menu Foods produced until they were forced to post the affected labels on their website. Private label pet food manufacturers tend not to name their customers. In fact, Doane Pet Care, who manufacturer's Wal-Mart's Ol' Roy dry dog food, does not even mention on its website that it is owned by Mars Inc. Doane is not involved in this recall.

Read the latest post on this topic here.

Click on a Label to learn more about the topic:

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Pet Food Recall Update: Affected Brands

Menu Foods fixed their website and posted the affected brands at

Thirty-eight different cat food labels and 46 brands of dog food are listed.

The FDA has posted additional information.


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Friday, March 16, 2007

Pet Franchises writes about some popular pet franchisees, including pet services like daycare, grooming and training. Check it out here. But if you're interested in buying a pet business or franchise, don't forget to research the entire industry first with independent market research.

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PR Strategy Needs a Recall

Menu Foods, one of the largest pet food manufacturers in North America, announced a recall this morning but failed to name affected brands, saying they will be available tomorrow morning on their website that currently doesn't function. Since they make pet food for Wal-Mart (WMT), Safeway (SWY), Kroger (KR), and many more, people were left understandably confused.

So far, Proctor & Gamble Pet Care (PG) and Safeway have taken the proactive move of recalling their labels possibly affected by their manufacturer, possibly compelled by Menu Foods vague press release that resulted in Friday night newscasts in major cities across the nation asking questions but getting no answers.

Purina (Nestle), Hills (CL), Petco and PetSmart (PETM) also made proactive moves before the affected brands were announced.

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Friday, March 02, 2007

Pet Industry News

PetSmart, Inc., the nations largest retailer of pet supplies, announced 2006 fiscal year results. Net sales in 2006 grew 11% from the previous year, to $4.23 billion. Pet services sales and revenue continue quarterly growth above 20%, generating $376 million in revenue in 2006.

The company will close all 180 State Line Tack departments, exiting the equine business to make room for higher margin pet supplies or PetsHotels.

Earlier this month, PetSmart increased its number of stores in Canada by 58% to 42 with the acquisition of 19 Super Pet stores.

One current advertising campaign directs users to the Nutrition Selector on the website, featuring highly differentiated premium dog and cat foods. Pet food is the largest segment of the industry - American's spend about $14 billion each year on pet food - and a primary driver of the consumer into the store.

Petco, the nation's second largest pet specialty retailer, went private last year but refuses to sit, expanding on services and pampering themes. The company announced a nationwide fashion show marketing campaign, and was reported to be exploring the mobile grooming business in Las Vegas.

Central Garden & Pet, the largest supplier of pet items to PetSmart, Petco, Wal-Mart, Target and many others, has been impacted recently by rising grain prices and Wal-Mart's decision to stop selling live fish. But it continues to innovate and grow across many segments of the industry, winning nine New Product awards at the 2007 Global Pet Expo.

Nestle, the world's largest food company, will open its first pet food factory in China this year as it tries to take a bite out of Mars Inc's Chinese market share. Mars has been in China for 10 years, and sells a lot of Pedigree and Whiskas to the local market through an alliance with a Chinese company, in this case Effem Foods (Beijing) Co. Ltd. Nestle may benefit from newer foreign ownership regulations.


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Friday, February 23, 2007

VCA Antech Gets an Optimistic Diagnosis

What better way to celebrate a twentieth anniversary than by watching the share price hit an all-time high? VCA Antech, Inc. (Nasdaq:WOOF) did just that, beating 2006 estimates and providing upbeat 2007 guidance, citing increases in just about everything from margins to revenues to average order size.

The company bought it's first animal hospital in 1986, and now owns 379 veterinary hospitals in 37 states, operates 33 laboratories that serve all 50 states, has about 10,000 employees and over a billion dollars in annual revenue.

Actively consolidating the veterinary channel, VCA Antech noted in its 4Q and Full Year 2006 conference call very strong growth in digital radiography (high-resolution digital x-ray images) equipment. Recent market penetration has established the company as a leader in this growing area.

Management attributes the company's 2006 growth to "the great market that we're in" and to the core execution of business processes and strategic plans

Source: VCA Antech
Video: WOOF Report

Marketing Veterinary Services?
Check out the Pet Industry Strategic Outlook by Dillon Media.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Eli Lilly Enters Pet Health Market

Leveraging existing strengths in human and production animal medications, Eli Lilly and Company will launch a new business group focused on companion animal health. The first products will address obesity and separation anxiety and launch by the end of the year, according to the company's website. Lilly will expand ties to practitioners and schools of veterinary medicine, and hire staff to expand strategy, development and sales at Elanco Animal Health, its production animal division.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Pet Industry Trade Shows 2007

Read the 2008 Update Here

A sure sign of industry growth is tradeshow growth, and the Global Pet Expo, hosted by trade organizations APPMA and PIDA, has quickly become one of the most significant. Industry publication Tradeshow Week recently named the Global Pet Expo one of the top 50 fastest growing trade, association, and consumer shows of the year.

International trade shows are also growing in popularity. In 2006, the number of international companies exhibiting at Germany's Interzoo was up 75% from the previous show. The leading nations besides Germany were China with 160 companies, up from 126 in 2004, and the USA with 129 companies, compared to 111 in 2004.

Below is a partial list of some more:

North American Veterinary Conference
January 13-17, 2007, Orlando FL

PIDA Management Conference & 39th Annual Meeting
January 20 - February 2, Dana Point CA

Groom & Kennel Expo 2007
February 9-11, Burbank CA

International Council of Shopping Centers trade shows include the 2007 ICSC Specialty Retailing Conference on Feb. 20-23 in Palm Springs, CA.

International Home & Housewares Show
March 11-13, 2007, Chicago IL

AAHA Yearly Conference 2007
March 17-21, Denver CO

Global Pet Expo 2007
February 22-24, Orlando FL

H.H. Backer Spring 2007
March 30 - April 01, Atlantic City NJ

WWPIA hosts SuperZoo on Sep. 18-20 in Las Vegas, and America's Family Pet Expo.

Pet Fair Asia consists of Pet Fair Professional and Pet Paradise Asia on Sep. 19-22 in Shanghai, China.

Pet South America
September 26-28, Sao Paolo, Brazil

Marketing to Pet Owners?
Check out the Pet Industry 2008 Strategic Outlook by Dillon Media.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

PetSmart 3Q results highlight services growth

PetSmart Inc., the nations largest pet specialty retailer, posted higher earnings in its third quarter 2006 results. Net income grew1.9% to $31.7 million on net sales of $1.0 billion, up 14% from the same period in 2005.

Comparable store sales grew 6.8% in the quarter, compared to 2.4% during last year's third quarter. Pet services sales were up 25.4% to $89.7 million.


In earlier conference calls, CEO Phil Francis has said services customers on average spend more money and return to the store more often than others, and that dog grooming is the primary driver of the services-oriented pet parent into the store.

Pet services spending has grown consistently over the last decade. These days, both the busy professional and the empty nester happily spend record amounts of money on dog grooming, boarding and training.

And the aging demographic of American househoulds should continue to drive this trend in the future. Click on the chart to enlarge.

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Pet Health Reference Search

Check out this search engine tailored to pet health symptoms, diseases, medications and information.


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Animal Planet adopts Petfinder

Animal Planet, owned by Discovery Communications, adopted and PetsIncredible as it expands its reach into consumer channels. Earlier in 2006 the company announced plans to bring its Animal Planet Expo to twelve locations in the U.S. PetsIncredible sells DVDs for pet owners and trainers, and the popular adoption site generates 120 million page views each month, according to Mediaweek.


Starbucks targets dog owners

Starbucks, in a localization trend, has started to appeal to dog owners. According to the Wall Street Journal, a Starbucks in Portland responded to strong dog owner demographics by adding an outside window counter so customers can purchase coffee without bringing their pets inside ("At Starbucks, Coffee Comes With New Decor," by Janet Adamy, The Wall Street Journal, Nov. 10, 2006).

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Coach pet accessories in 2006

New for the 2006 holiday season from Coach is a private label pet carrier costing $398. This continues a relatively slow expansion into pet supplies for the company.

Related Posts:
Aug 2007 Paco Collars - Handmade Leather Dog Collars
Sep 2005: Coach dog collars and leashes online
Jun 2005: Coach pet accessories in 2005

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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Luxury Pet Products

Retailers continue to appeal to pet owners. Whether looking for broader customer reach or attracted by high profit margins, this trend is evident across the range of retailers, from dollar stores to luxury boutiques. Even Target and Wal-Mart are moving upmarket, but what's at the top?

Neiman Marcus just released the new Christmas Book, featuring a much larger selection of luxury pet accessories than last year, including a $185 dog leash that matches personal accessories and an Italian-designed dog house for $8,000. Notably, there's also a Neiman Marcus-branded pet throw costing from $485 to $800.

Macy's launched it's second pet department in Philadelphia last month. The first 'Pet on the Woof' boutique opened in NYC last year.

Harrod's in the UK holds an annual pet fashion show called Pet-a-Porter.

And one of my favorite online luxury retailers, Pampered Puppy, recently wrote about brand extensions from the likes of Kate Spade, Von Dutch and Burberry.

Read More:
Neiman Marcus
Marco Morosini
Pampered Puppy

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Monday, September 18, 2006

Not in the Pet Industry? Maybe You Are

The independent product evaluators at Consumer Reports magazine seem to be paying more attention to pets these days. Besides reporting on dog and cat products and services recently, including airline policies for pet travel, they are beginning to address the impact of a dog or cat on household products they test.

The October 2006 rating of vacuum cleaners includes a sidebar explaining how they are adjusting methodology to allow for pets, most notably they collected six months worth of cat hair and mashed it into a rug. The surprise is how poorly some top-rated vacuum cleaners performed.

Just another reminder that a large percent of almost everyone's target market owns pets.


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Thursday, August 10, 2006

Dog Grooming Laws

The Wall Street Journal reported last week on the changing nature of the pet services industry. High demand and more competition for dog grooming has increased deaths and injuries in a lightly-regulated environment, so animal welfare groups and lawmakers are pushing for changes ("Deadly Incidents Prompt Concern About Pet Salons," by Sara Schaefer Muñoz, The Wall Street Journal, Aug. 2, 2006). Laws being considered in New York and Pennsylvania would require training and licensing for groomers.

Pets are considered property by the legislative system for the most part. Even though animal welfare laws continue to evolve, mirroring the humanization trend, as a piece of property, a dog is not much different than an appliance when it comes to damage and loss.

According to the Wall Street Journal, many attorneys refuse to take on cases involving pets, and those who do, and win, often get just above the market value of the pet.

Marketing Pet Services?
New research from Dillon Media shows demographic info by age, income and more, for consumer spending on pet services in the U.S. Includes a current pet industry overview.

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Saturday, July 15, 2006

Petco Turns Private

Petco Animal Supplies (NASDAQ:PETC) will be acquired by two private equity firms for $1.68 billion. Leonard Green & Partners, L.P. and the Texas Pacific Group, who previously took the company private from 2000 to 2002, have agreed to do it again, adding Petco to their portfolios of investments.

Removing analyst pressures and vagaries of public sentiment seems to me a wise strategic move at this juncture, allowing the company to better focus on its strengths and dynamically adjust the business in the market. A low stock price and emerging indications of new consumer behaviors may be two factors involved in the decision.

Read more:

PETCO Animal Supplies, Inc. to be Acquired by Texas Pacific Group and Leonard Green & Partners, L.P. for $29.00 per Share in Cash, Petco Animal Supplies, Inc., July 14, 2006.

Petco Agrees to $1.68B Buyout by Group , by Elliot Spagat, The Associated Press, July 14, 2006.

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Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Disney Expands into Pet Market

Reuters reports that The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) plans to expand its range of pet products globally, producing collars, clothing and bedding for pets by licensing its valuable portfolio of characters.

Current lines include a Pirates of the Caribbean aquarium and an Old Yeller private label dog food. Details on the expansion plans were not provided.

Licensing arrangements generate about 70% margins for Disney, and consumers worldwide bought $21 billion of products branded by Disney last year ("Disney barking up a new tree with pet products," by Jeffrey Goldfarb, Reuters, June 7, 2006).

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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

PetMed Express

PetMed Express continues to increase the dosage. As the largest pharmacy for dogs, cats and horses, PetMed is well positioned in the prescription and non-prescription pet health segments.

PetMed won the 27th spot on BusinessWeek's list of the top 100 Hot Growth companies. By focusing on their best-selling products and their relationship with vets, PetMed grabbed 1.3 million customers in the past two years, each spending about $76 ('Hot Growth: 100 Sizzling Companies to Watch,' by Arlene Weintraub, BusinessWeek, June 5 2006).

And Standard & Poor's on June 5 announced that PetMed Express, Inc. (NASDAQ:PETS) will be added to the S&P SmallCap 600 GICS (Global Industry Classification Standard) Catalog Retail Sub-Industry Index on Monday, June 12.

Besides the natural alignment with pet health trends, I think PetMed is also decently positioned against high gas prices simply because of its online business model.

Marketing Pet Health Products or Services?
A new report is out, with trends and demographics by age, income, region and family size, called 'Consumer Spending on Veterinary Services 2000-2004.' Check it out.

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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Organic Pet Food by Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

The pet food industry continues to evolve at a fast pace. Just two months after Target Corp. (NYSE:TGT) introduced a private label premium pet food, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE:WMT) launched a private label, all natural, organic pet food called Natural Life.

Moving further upscale, Wal-Mart is also stepping up competition in the $14 billion market for pet food. It already sells Ol' Roy dog food in the non-premium dry segment, and has now entered the organic pet food market, which is growing at high double digit rates annually.

Ol' Roy is a Wal-Mart private label manufactured by Doane Pet Care Co., a leading supplier of private label food to many companies. Doane announced today that it is being acquired by privately held Mars, Inc., owner of Pedigree, Sheba and Whiskas pet foods.

So Mars now owns the company that makes Wal-Mart's top-selling dry dog food. Mars launched a $200 million advertising campaign for Pedigree in '05, which is not sold at Wal-Mart and does not directly compete with Ol' Roy, but Wal-Mart's new entry into the premium space should be interesting to watch. I would assume (but don't really know), that Doane's also manufactures brands that compete directly with Pedigree.

Del Monte Foods Co. (NYSE:DLM) recently bought the Meow Mix and Milk-Bone brands for over $1 billion.

The Proctor & Gamble Company (NYSE:PG) bought Iams in 1999 and brought it out of veterinarian offices and into 25,000 retail outlets, developed a tartar control coating using processes from Crest toothpaste, and turned Iams into the nations top pet food brand by dollar sales according to AC Neilsen with 10% of retail sales in Sep 2005. In 2006 P&G will debut a tartar control pet treat and possibly pet shampoos and odor removers as well ('Pets are People Too, You Know,' Businessweek Online, Nov 28 2005).

Colgate-Palmolive Company (NYSE:CL) owns Hill's Science Diet, which was sold primarily in the vet channel until last year when it became available in PetSmart, Inc. (NASDAQ:PETM) retailers with in-store Banfield hospitals. Similar to Procter & Gamble, it seems Colgate-Palmolive is well positioned to use existing processes and technologies to produce odor control products from pet shampoos to fabric cleaners.

Colgate today announced first quarter 2006 results. Sales rose 5 percent to $2.87 billion from $2.74 billion, with the oral, personal and home care segment up 4.3 percent to $2.49 billion and the pet nutrition segment up 7 percent to $385.3 million. Hill's sales accounted for 13 percent of the company's total sales.

Nestle Purina PetCare owns many brands including Alpo, Beneful, Pro Plan, Purina One, Puppy Chow, Fancy Feast, and Friskies. Headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, where Ralston Purina Company was founded more than a century ago, the company is part of the Swiss-based Nestle S.A. - the world's largest food company.

Marketing to Pet Owners?
Check out the Pet Industry Strategic Outlook by Dillon Media.

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Pet Care in the 21st Century

Advances in veterinary medicine, new screening and treatment options, and consumers more educated than ever about pet diseases continue to drive the market for pet health care products and services.

Dog and cat owners in San Diego, California now have access to top-quality care at the new clinical facilities for the UC Veterinary Medical Center-San Diego.

The unit for treating acute and chronic kidney failure is one of only two veterinary clinics in California and five in the nation equipped to provide dialysis for cats and dogs. Other services includes behavioral, pharmaceutical, and nutritional specialty care.

The center was established in 1998 by UC Davis and UC San Diego to collaborate on teaching and research and to promote emerging specialty services in Southern California.

Related links:
UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine
Marketing veterinary services? - Charts of vet spending by age, income and family makeup. Purchase online.
Pet Health Reference Search - A customized search engine for symptoms, conditions and treatments.

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Monday, April 17, 2006

40 Percent of US Households Own a Dog

The pet industry recovered nicely from a slight slowdown last fall and winter, and continues to exhibit strong and resilient growth patterns.

The overall industry reached $36.3 billion in the U.S. in 2005, according to the APPMA, up 5.5 percent from 2004, and up 27 percent since 2001.

Segments in 2005 that beat earlier estimates include food ($14.7 billion), veterinary care ($8.7 billion), and services like grooming and boarding ($2.5 billion).

The APPMA estimates that 63 percent of households own a pet of some sort, and that 39.2 percent of American households own 74 million dogs.

Market Research Report:
Check out the Pet Industry Strategic Outlook by Dillon Media.

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