In our pre-pandemic “hustle and bustle” world, many people found their interactions with their pets were fleeting. Between work, kids’ extracurricular activities and other responsibilities, many people didn’t have enough hours left in the day to spend quality time with their pets. However, now that many are working from home, activities are cancelled and people are simply staying in more, consumers are spending more time and building stronger relationships with their pets like never before. Add to that the rise in pet adoptions during this time and the need for treats to be used during the training process, and you’ll understand why dog treats are showing strong, sustained growth, while other categories have seen a dip after initial COVID-related pantry loading.

“The bright spot for retailers is that dog treats are an incremental purchase for consumers and our data indicates the more treats consumers have, the more they’ll treat,” according to Joe Toscano, vice president, Trade & Industry Development at Purina.

Some of the key trends driving growth in the category include the human food trend of “better for you,” the belief that treats should provide a health benefit, and the desire of dog owners to create more special moments together. In fact, 25 percent of the pet treat category is currently made up of functional treats. It’s these better-for-you treats that are growing faster than the rest of the treat category (at nearly 5 percent growth vs. 3.6 percent).

Purina has developed several new “better-for-you” treats this year including Prime Bones, which are safe, long-lasting natural chews dogs will love without the potential hazards of treating with animal bones, antlers or rawhides. The tasty chews are crafted to satisfy a dog’s instinctual love of chewing. Prime Bones are made without corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors or preservatives in Purina’s owned and operated facility in Dunkirk, New York.

For dog treat buyers, variety is key. On average, dog treat buyers feed treats eight times a week. Half of buyers reported having two or more varieties, such as crunchy, meaty, dental, long lasting or niche treats in the pantry and 60 percent of buyers reported having two to five packages on hand.

“Meaty treats like Purina Beggin’ Dog Treats are always made with real meat as the No. 1 ingredient and a heaping helping of jaw-dropping deliciousness in every bite. One whiff and your four-legged friend will come running,” Toscano explained.

The dog treat category has always held great potential for retailers as a basket builder and profit driver. Dog treats offer an opportunity for your customers to form meaningful connections with their dogs, have fun, and with functional treats, feel good about the fact that they’re providing an addition to the dog’s diet that provides health benefits. With your customers’ newfound appreciation and connection with their existing pets and excitement over new additions to the family, savvy retailers can benefit from helping customers stock their pantries with the right treats for every pet and every occasion.

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