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Fresh Pet Food in North America: The Raw/Frozen, Refrigerated and Homemade Wave

Since the late 1990s virtually all of the dollar sales growth in the North American pet food market has been coming from the conversion of pet owners to higher priced fare, and the single most important factor behind their willingness to pay more is the belief that better quality products offer tangible health benefits. Fresh pet foods fit the bill perfectly, appealing to pet owners not just on the basis of freshness—which is also one of the hottest button issues in human food marketing today—but on the basis of the products’ being able to improve pet health holistically. Because they are not subject to high heat, fresh pet foods retain more of their natural nutritional elements, and proponents of raw diets claim that these products can offer a variety of benefits beyond general well being, such as the amelioration of allergies and longstanding gastrointestinal ailments. As a result, consumer demand for fresh pet food is on the rise, helped along by innovative new products based on technological advances and convenience features, frequent overlap into the high-growth natural/organic segment, heightened food safety concerns stemming from the sweeping pet food recalls of spring 2007, and the mobilization of the raw/frozen pet food market via the formation of two industry groups: The North American Raw Petfood Association and the Canadian Association of Raw Pet Food Manufacturers.

This groundbreaking report from Packaged Facts—the first market report to quantify this dynamic segment of the North American pet food market—is grounded in primary interviews with top industry experts supported by extensive canvassing on the Internet, where the “word-of-mouth” raw foods movement has long been based and continues to spread. The report defines the North American pet food market as consisting mainly of raw diets sold in frozen form to consumers in the United States and Canada—but the definition also includes refrigerated or frozen pet foods that have been lightly cooked (i.e., pasteurized) and uncooked products made shelf-stable via freeze-drying or other processes of dehydration. This report also examines the growing trend toward homemade pet foods, especially within the context of overlap with raw pet foods and commercial pet food mixes, and the market trend toward the usage of fresh ingredients in traditional shelf-stable dry and wet pet foods.

Key features of the report include:

  • Detailed explanation of the two raw/frozen product segments: BARF (Bones and Raw Food) and Raw Meaty Bones (aka, “prey model”).
  • Market size and composition figures including historical and projected market size and market composition (by country, product type, retail outlet, consumer demographic).
  • Comprehensive “Market Outlook” chapter covering factors including pet health, industry initiatives, effects of 2007 recalls, impact of 2008 recession, Internet trends, product safety issues and regulatory trends.
  • Identification of all major players and many “minors,” with close-up look at market leaders including raw/frozen leader Nature’s Variety and refrigerated leader Freshpet.
  • Close-up look at refrigerated pet food, which the report predicts will soon “be commonly available in supermarket chains nationwide.”
  • Competitive trends and forecasted market entry of mainstream major pet food players.
  • Current and emerging product trends including “complete and balanced,” organic, no-allergy/grain-free, convenience, homemade, treats, functional foods, and produce mixes and supplements.


  • Market Trends
    • Introduction
      • Scope of Report
      • Natural Diets vs. Natural Pet Food
      • Raw/Frozen Foods
      • Dr. Billinghurst's BARF Diet
      • The Raw Meaty Bones (Prey Model) Approach
      • Raw Food Processing
      • Pasteurization
      • Freeze-Drying
      • Product Packaging
      • Product Regulation
      • Related Terms
      • Report Methodology
    • Market Size and Composition
      • Double-Digit Sales Growth
        • Table North American Retail Sales of Fresh Pet Food: 2003-2012 (in millions of dollars)
      • IRI-Tracked Sales of Frozen and Refrigerated Pet Food
        • Table IRI-Tracked U.S. Sales of Frozen/Refrigerated Pet Food, 2003-2008 (in millions of dollars)
      • Market Composition
        • Table Share of North American Sales of Fresh Pet Food by Product Type: 2007 (percent)
        • Table Share of North American Retail Sales of Fresh Pet Food by Retail Channel: 2007 (percent)
      • Market in Context
        • Table Alternative Pet Food Segment Performance Relative to Total North American Pet Food Market (percent, growth rate)
      • Consumer Trends
        • Table Percentage of Dog and Cat Owners Purchasing Frozen Pet Food in Past 12 Months: 2002, 2004 and 2006
        • Table Percentage of Dog and Cat Owners Purchasing Human Food for Use as Pet Food: 2002, 2004 and 2006
    • Market Outlook
      • The Core Market Driver: Health
      • Raw Pet Food Industry Beginning to Organize
      • FDA Issues Final Guidance on Raw Meat for Animals
      • Pet Food Recall Drives Pet Owners to Alternative Foods
        • Table Effect of Pet Food Recall on Pet Food Sales in Pet Specialty Stores, May 2007 (percent)
        • Table Effect of Pet Food Recall on Pet Specialty Retailer Pet Food Selection, January 2008 (percent)
      • Effects of 2008 Recession
      • Pet Food Prices at Record Highs and Still on the Ups
        • Table Consumer Price Index for Pet Food, 1998-2008
        • Table Producer Price Index for Pet Food, 1998-2008
      • Growth of Internet as Pet Product Marketing Venue
        • Table Percentage Rates for Use/Influence of Internet: Overall Households vs. Dog- or Cat-Owning Households, 2007
      • Safety Concerns Over Raw/Frozen Foods
  • Marketing Trends
    • Competitive Trends
      • Leading North American Marketers
        • Table North American Marketers and Brands of Raw/Frozen and Refrigerated Pet Food, 2008
      • Crossing Category Lines
      • Company Snapshot: Nature's Variety
      • The Mass-Market Players: Freshpet and Bil-Jac
        • Table IRI-Tracked U.S. Sales of Frozen and Refrigerated Pet Food by Marketer, 2003-2008 (in millions of dollars)
      • Freshpet Makes a Refrigerated Splash
      • Bil-Jac Well Positioned for Fresh Market Growth
      • The Freezer Factor
      • Distribution Trends
      • Marketing Tools
      • Focus on Safety
      • Positioning on Ethical
      • Internet Marketing
      • Competition from Traditional Pet Food Makers
        • Table Top Pet Department Brands in Natural Food Supermarkets: March 2007 vs. March 2008 (% growth in dollar sales)
    • Product Trends
      • Complete and Balanced
      • Organic
      • No-Allergy/Grain-Free
      • Focus on Convenience
      • Back to Homemade?
      • New Zealand Appeal
      • Training Treats
      • Targeted Functional Foods
      • Produce Mixes and Supplements

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