The pandemic registered a record surge in pet ownership in the UK and this significantly boosted the already solid petfood market in the country. While the Covid-19 pandemic has shifted pet ownership into a higher gear in the past couple of years, Britons are known as a nation of pet-lovers with 34 percent of households owning a dog, 28 percent owning a cat, and the estimated number of households with pets of all kinds now standing at 17.4m as per the statistics by pet Food Manufacturers Association(PFMA).
Recently, inflation has begun to hit the country and pet products prices shot up by a noticeable margin. Statistics from Office of National Statistics (ONS) revealed that Britishers are paying 8.4 percent more for per products now than they were a year before.
It’s not just the UK being hit by the inflation either, with the US also seeing a spike in the productions. According to the US Bureau of Statistics, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased 8.5 percent compared to 2021 levels. This is the largest rise since 1981.
The escalating costs are causing great anxiety among many pet owners. According to a Rover analysis, 70 percent of those asked said they are already feeling the pinch and are paying extra on food and treats for their pet. Additionally, a poll of pet owners found that 73 percent were very concerned about price increases.
A significant cost increase
There is no immediate end in sight to price increases. As a result, many pet owners may decide to reduce their expenditure on pet food and treats. The significant cost increase has affected the petfood producers as well.
The price for everything for raw materials to transportation has gone up and this has made it extremely challenging for Petfood manufacturers to sustain in the profit margins and also staying competitive in the market.
Pet owners are struggling with the ‘cost of living’ crisis that many of them has to rely on food banks to feed their furry companions. Animal charity RSPCA provided meals for 19,500 dogs and cats in the north of England last month, up from around 9000 in January.
In the south of Wales, it’s a similar story with Pet Foodbank Service delivering 46,000 meals for animals so far this year, 25% more than during the same period of 2021. It’s a sombre indication of how the biggest inflation in forty years is affecting British consumers’ wellbeing and burdening those who have the most mouths to feed.
The war between two significant grain producers of the world has indeed affected the petfood industry along with the agricultural industry. Many people are experiencing a shift in circumstances as a result of purchasing or adopting pets during the epidemic to maximise lockdown living.
RSPCA has partnered with 59 food banks catering to people in the north of England and expects to grow that to at least 90 by the end of the year.
Giving up pets
The apparent difficult conditions has led the pet owners to abandon their pets to cope with living crisis. There are reports on 20 puppies being discovered in a box late last month in Essex, UK.
Since the onset of the epidemic, there has been an increase in animal maltreatment, and the RSPCA is worried that the cost-of-living crisis may result in even more cruelty and neglect.
RSPCA research shows that, in April 2021, there were around 4400 searches per month online around ‘giving up pets’ and, in April 2022, this rose by 50 per cent to a high of 6600.
RSPCA suggests that finding cheaper foods to meet your pets need and also mixing it with other products you buy to keep them lasting longer is a short-term solution. But the Petfood producers and the industry together have to come up with more innovative solution to tackle effect of inflation.
Even though the situation seems too difficult at present, what is certain is that pet food businesses will continue to evolve and advance in the development of new foods for pets.