NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--In the latest evidence that natural alternatives are driving the pet food market, GfK data for the past year show a 28% spike in grain-free food sales at US pet stores. Through its Retail Sales Tracking division, GfK tracks sales in over 11,000 US pet outlets – including national and regional chains, as well as neighborhood pet shops.
Grain-free and high protein diets are said to be more natural for dogs and cats, giving them more energy and healthier coats and cutting back on allergic reactions. The grain-free category is an outgrowth of a larger trend toward natural pet products, ranging from cat litter to flea and tick products.
Overall, grain-free products racked up $1.7 billion in sales at pet outlets over the past year (September 2012 to September 2013), and account for about one-third of all new pet items introduced each month. In the past year, the number of grain-free pet products has grown 33%, to over 3,500 on shelves today – about 2,300 for dogs, versus roughly 1,200 for cats.
Dog items also account for the vast majority of grain-free sales: $1.4 billion in the past year, compared to $322 million for cat products. And consumers pay roughly 45% more for grain-free products.
“We see the growth of grain-free foods – and natural pet products generally – as part of a larger trend toward humanization of pets,” said Maria Lange, Senior Product Manager of GfK’s Retail Sales Tracking team. “Consumers are clearly comfortable splurging on pets they see as valued family members, not just everyday animals. We see brands like Blue Wilderness, Natural Balance, and Taste of the Wild leading the way; and we expect other outgrowths of the natural trend to emerge in the coming months.”
GfK is one of the world’s leading research companies, with around 13,000 experts working to discover new insights into the way people live, think and shop, in over 100 markets, every day. GfK is constantly innovating and using the latest technologies and the smartest methodologies to give its clients the clearest understanding of the most important people in the world: their customers. In 2012, GfK’s sales amounted to €1.51 billion.