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Canadians turn to pets as pandemic relief

October 1, 2021
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Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Wisconsin businesses specializing in the pet product industry may find opportunity within the growing Canadian pet market.

Canadians are taking comfort in pets as a way to get through the isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reports say 18% of pet owners adopted their new companion since the start of the pandemic, raising the total pet population in Canada to 27.9 million in 2020. Nearly two-thirds of Canadians, 63%, are now pet owners, according to the Pet Food Association of Canada.

New owners were twice as likely to bring a cat or kitten into the family as a dog during the pandemic, Sensibill Data Lab’s Barcode Report said. And with the growing number of pets, consumer spending on pet foods, supplies and services—including veterinary care—more than doubled during the pandemic, jumping 117%.

The Canadian pet product market is estimated at $7 billion CAD ($5.6 billion USD), with about $4.2 billion CAD ($3.4 billion USD) in pet food alone. Dog food accounted for nearly twice the amount of cat food sold, with 65% of the food and treats going to dogs.

As consumers paid more attention to their own healthy food and care during the pandemic, they did so for their pets as well. An analysis of store receipts showed that increased consumer spending on fruits, vegetables and personal grooming supplies correlated with higher spending on specialty pet foods, including natural products and dietary supplements. Pet toy sales soared 780%, the Barcode Report said.

A PIJAC Canada webinar recording called Product Innovation and Pet Food Shopper Psychographics (Canadian Pet Market Survey) from Packaged Facts provides some interesting statistics on consumer shopping for pets.

As with other industries, e-commerce has accelerated in the pet industry due to the pandemic, and subscription services with auto replenishment features are trending. As people continue to stay home and work remotely even after the pandemic, interest in pet ownership will grow. The number of pets in Canada is expected to reach 28.5 million by 2025. That means opportunities will continue to abound for new and innovative products and services in the industry.


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