The pet supplement industry is robust, and has the power to withstand economic challenges, including the current economic downturn caused by COVID-19. Even during the economic crisis of 2008, dog and cat supplements sales did not decline, says Bill Bookout, President of the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC). The truth is, he says, people will do for their pets before they do for themselves.
NASC represents over 250 brands in the pet health market, and from Bookout’s conversations with members, people seem to agree that interest in pet supplements isn’t declining. It’s actually expanding, and the numbers prove it. The global pet supplements market is expected to reach $1.05 billion by 2027, expanding at a CAGR of 6.4% over the forecast period, according to a report by Grand View Research, Inc (1).
For a glimpse at the retail side, we touched base with Fruitful Yield Health Foods in Bloomingdale, IL, and got insights from Melissa Dyrda, Visual Merchandising Manager, Cher Morrice, Manager of Training & Leadership Development, and Jami Johnson, eCommerce Manager. They reported that online orders in the pet category have consistently increased over the years, and at the onset of COVID-19 in the U.S., shoppers began heavily stocking up pet products, with online sales increasing 1,540% since March 2020. The numbers now are returning to normal, and customers are not buying products in bulk as much.
Sales for NaturVet, a pet supplement manufacturer, increased in locations where pet retailers focused on curbside or buy online pickup in store, adds Scott Garmon, President, NaturVet/Garmon Corp.
When it comes to being on top of the trends today and preparing for the future, retailers should look at normal routines, advises Cheryl Myers, Chief of Scientific Affairs and Education at EuroPharma, maker of the Terry Naturally Animal Health brand. “The basic health concerns for pets remain the same: preventing joint problems, keeping calm during stressful events, and promoting overall longevity to keep our best friends in good health for a long time.” Taking a closer look at a few of the concerns and options pet owners can discuss with their vet:
Nurturing General Wellness: Whether it’s avoiding grains and fillers, and buying more raw options without preservatives, consumers are looking for better-for-them options, the Fruitful Yield team reports.
Pet health ingredient supplier Layn also has noted that pet owners are seeking functional, clean label products to support general wellness. That’s why the company expanded its ingredient line with its animal nutrition brand TruGro. “We are seeing increasing interest in innovative ingredients that offer additional functionality,” says Mary Joe Fernandez, Global Vice President Sales and Business Development at Layn. “There’s been an interest in our entire natural botanical ingredients portfolio for pets.” Layn’s TruGro line includes polyphenol rich extracts, palatability ingredients and other specialty extracts from botanicals including rosemary and others for uses in pet treats and supplements. The specialty ingredients range from TruGro Digestibility (maintaining intestinal barrier function), Taste (adding palatability to pet foods), AOX (shelf life of lipids), and Care (nutritional metabolic balance).
For overall wellness including support for brain, skin, heart, and eyes, Terry Naturally has formulated Intelligent Omega. “The importance of high-quality omega-3 fatty acids for a dog’s skin and coat, for their brain development, and for their overall well-being is just starting to get noticed,” says Myers. “We launched our Intelligent Omega and made sure to use omega-3s from one excellent source—salmon.”
Chlorella is another health-supporting multitasker. Sun Chlorella USA offers Rejuv-A-Wafers. Jennifer B. Jimenez, VP/COO, Sun Chlorella USA, says, “Rejuv-A-Wafers brings the power of chlorella and eleuthero to pets to help support their gut health, energy, coat and skin, promote fresher breath, improve body odor and much more.”
Supporting Joint Health: Osteoarthritis affects 20% of all dogs (2), and while reducing the dog’s weight may help relieve pain, care strategies typically involve managing pain and preserving function (3). Joint health supplements for pets can offer a helping hand.
“Certain breeds of dog are more prone to developing osteoarthritis or hip dysplasia, and simple aging/wear and tear can contribute quite a bit, just like it does for us,” says Myers. “It’s very likely that many dogs with these conditions are taking glucosamine. And maybe that’s been working, but it’s time to back it up with something else. Or, pet owners may want a different choice because they want to avoid putting their best friend on carprofen (one brand name is Rimadyl), which can cause liver damage, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, and ulcers.”
For older dogs, Terry Naturally’s Animal Health line includes Joint & Hip Formula with BCM-95/Curcugreen Curcumin, and BOS-10 boswellia. The supplement works to minimize inflammation and relieve pain.
To address cartilage and ligament health and joint lubrication, NaturVet offers ArthriSoothe-Gold, a blend of glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM, hyaluronic acid, and antioxidants. “It’s a perfect product for any pet with joint issues due to injuries, or surgeries, or when the most joint support is needed,” says Garmon.
Another brand offering chondroitin along with glucosamine HCL and MSM: Rocco & Roxie Supply Co. “We added a proprietary blend of Balanced Kollagen to promote recovery from muscle and ligament strain, along with Tart Cherry, a superb antioxidant,” says Morgan Magleby, Co-Founder and CEO. “The result is a soft chew daily that dogs love and that provides unparalleled daily support for their arthritis, hip dysplasia, and overall joint health.”
Calming Stress: 2020 has been a time of transition and stress for all of us, including our canine and feline companions. Whether it’s a change in schedule, a new adoption, a foster home, or summer fireworks, our pets experience anxiety and stress. Luckily, there are a number of supplements that can help. NOW has seen interest in their Pet Relaxant Product, says Regina Flight, NOW Pets Category Manager. The Chewable Tablets are formulated with natural botanicals including Valerian, Chamomile, Passionflower, and L-Tryptophan to promote relaxation and contentment during changes to a pet’s daily routine.
Echinacea is another soother. Terry Naturally’s Calming Formula features a specialized extract of Echinacea angustifolia, which Myers says has shown remarkable results in human clinical studies and can help dogs deal with sudden storms, unexpected visitors, fireworks, and trips to the vet. “Of course, with the popularity of hemp and CBD, we’re hearing much more about cannabinoid receptors and the endocannabinoid system these days, especially for stress or anxiety,” says Myers. “However, there are powerful phytocannabinoids that are not found in hemp. Echinacea angustifolia has effective levels of alkamides which are highly specific to receptors in the brain that regulate stress and anxiety.”
For pet owners interested in CBD, Layn supplies TruGro “Relief” full-spectrum, broad spectrum or isolated CBD ingredient from organically grown hemp. And from brands, Innovet has a CBD Oil for dogs and cats, and GreenRoads sells CBD pet drops.
Fostering Immune Health: “Much like the other premium functional products in our collection, we use clinically supported and advanced ingredients to keep our besties feeling zesty,” says Steve Ball, CEO of Zesty Paws. “Zesty Paws Aller-Immune Bites use a premium ingredient called EpiCor, which is a postbiotic yeast fermentate containing a complex range of polyphenols, fibers, polysaccharides, and metabolites that provide enhanced support for the immune system.”
Specifically for feline friends, NOW Pets offers Lysine for Cats, which supports a healthy immune system and normal respiratory health. Lysine for Cats helps to maintain ocular health and is 100% pharmaceutical grade with no fillers.
Fending Off Fleas and Ticks: A pet wellness “must-have” is tick and flea protection, but such products can raise chemical concerns. Enter essentials oils. “NOW Pets Flea & Tick Spray is a repellent using essential oils as the primary actives. It does not contain DEET, synthetic pesticides, or pyrethrins and is a safer alternative to harsh chemical-laden flea prevention products,” says Flight. “Our product does not have any artificial colors or fragrances, and contains the same high quality essential oils humans use themselves.”
5 Keys to a Profitable Pet Section
The pet health section can be a powerhouse of retail profit if merchandised properly, says Scott Garmon, President, NaturVet/Garmon Corp and National Animal Supplement Council Member. If you’re interested in improving your pet health category in store, start with education, and stock the shelves with popular needs for consumers to choose and compare. Garmon’s advice:
- Focus on high quality pet health products. Companies bearing the NASC (National Animal Supplement Council) emblem follow high quality manufacturing processes and are extremely reputable. The NASC is a third party organization that focuses on quality control of pet health products to make sure all pets have access to high quality products.
- Focus on a few key categories. “Our focus categories include Joint Health, Digestive Aids, Skin & Coat Health, Calming Aids, and Vitamins & Minerals,” says Garmon. Once these key categories are filled, expand to include other categories based on available space. And within categories, have a variety of delivery options. Powder products tend to be easier to disguise in foods and are perfect for our pickier pets, Garmon says. Tablets tend to be more economical and better dosed for large animals. Soft Chews are best for consumers looking for a functional treat or for smaller pets because they’re easy to chew.
- Merchandise the section by categories. It’s important to allow customers to easily compare brands with similar products, says Garmon.
- Be strategic with signage. Use educational shelf talkers to quickly outline benefits of products for consumers.
- Educate. Employees should recognize pet needs and cross sell products. He adds that NaturVet has a variety of online educational tools for retailers to share with employees.
On the Horizon
Going forward, retailers can expect more from the pet health category. “There is a generational trend toward younger pet owners spending more money on their dogs,” says Myers. “Millennial pet owners outspend boomers, and that money is going toward bigger-ticket items that may have once seemed too luxurious. It’s not necessarily a case of conspicuous consumption—these customers are well-informed, and know that they want quality products that work.”
Interest in trending products that feature probiotics, joint health, anti-anxiety, skin health and overall longevity benefits are expected to increase. And as the market continues to expand, retailers should keep an eye out for the brands with backing. “We’re going to continue to see expansion from human supplements that are laterally expanding to the pet segment,” says Bookout. “You’ll see larger companies expand into pet supplements, stronger presence of private label products from major retailers. There will be consolidations, mergers and acquisitions, over a two to five year time horizon.”
It’s an exciting growth area, and while growth certainly provides opportunity, it can open up the theoretical door for opportunists trying to make a fast buck, cautions Bookout. Retailers should consider quality when choosing what to stock. “Trust but verify. There are two things you can take to the bank, 1) companies that sound too good to be true probably are, as there are no magic bullets, and 2) cheap products are generally cheap for a reason.” WF
1) Grandview Research, “Pet Supplements Market Size Worth $1.05 Billion by 2027 | CAGR: 6.4%,” PRNewsire.com, Posted 4/6/2020. Accessed 8/1/2020. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/pet-supplements-market-size-worth-1-05-billion-by-2027–cagr-6-4-grand-view-research-inc-301035668.html.
2) Krista Williams, BSc, DVM; Robin Downing, DVM, CVPP, CCRP, DAAPM, “Helping Your Dog with Osteoarthritis,” VCA Hospials, https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/helping-your-dog-with-osteoarthritis#:~:text=A%20diagnosis%20of%20osteoarthritis%20(OA,common%20chronic%20disease%20they%20face.
3) Carmela Stamper, DVM, “Osteoarthritis in Cats: A More Common Disease Than You Might Expect,” FDA.gov., Posted 2/2/18. Accessed 8/1/20. https://www.fda.gov/animal-veterinary/animal-health-literacy/osteoarthritis-cats-more-common-disease-you-might-expect#:~:text=Clinical%20signs%20of%20osteoarthritis%20in,jump%20on%20and%20off%20objects.