The Pet Industry Is Booming

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Photo: Daniel Goodman / Business Insider

The phrase “Dog is man’s best friend” is a common enough cliché. But in certain pockets of society, that cliché is no longer true. Dogs are now becoming part of the family in certain communities.At the H.H. Backer Pet Industry Holiday Show, the truly doggie-devoted gather together to share tips, information, and products, all designed to pander to pets.

The first sign that these pets are not just pets but are thought of as part of the family can be seen by the menu options devoted owners prepare for their pets.

For example, when asked about what his dog will be eating for dinner, Spring Naturals‘ rep says, “It is a choice between Lamb and Salmon or Chicken Stew.” 

Tasty. Believe it or not, all of this mouthwatering food is dog food.  Not the sort of dry doggie food that is unfit for human consumption. This dog food is gourmet by any standard and is better than what most humans usually eat.

Beckie Tomala, who works for the company that sells this upgraded version of dog food, scoops up some beef stew for the humans in attendance to taste. That beef stew is heartier, thicker and more flavorful than most soups. 

If you are reading this wondering why a human would actually be envious of doggie chow, you have not spent any time at the H.H. Backer Pet Industry Holiday Show at the Rosemont convention centre this weekend in Chicago, where thousands of pet store buyers including local pet boutiques like Barker & Meowsky select their holiday items for a set of dog-owners eager to pamper their pets. 

The Pet trade show is filled with a variety of high-end food, bedding, toy, and clothing choices for pets beyond imagination.

Although the broader economy seems poised to dip into prolonged recession, the American Pet Products Manufactures predicts that American pet owners will spend nearly $2.9 billion this year on pet related services.

Overall spending in the pet industry (including food, supplies, veterinary care, live animal purchases and other services such as grooming and boarding and pet sitting) grew by 5.4% from $43.2 billion in 2008 to a little over $45.5 billion in 2009, with no declines in any category from 2007. 

“The pet industry continues to thrive,” said Don Tomala, managing partner of Matrix Partners. “Despite a troubled economy, the pet industry still continues to invest in research and innovation to bring the very best to store shelves.” Tomala has spent a significant portion of his marketing career in the pet industry, an area where he has gained considerable expertise in brand strategy, brand identity and new product launches. 

Healthy, nutritious and delicious food is just the beginning. Worried that your dog is bored? Perhaps it’s time to buy a specially designed board game.

Devoted pet parents in this booming space, are purchasing recreational games that make your pet smarter. Your eyes are not fooling you, you read that right, people are making and marketing Monopoly for your dog. The Company of Animals offers for purchase the Dog Tornado, a game designed for your dog.

The concept behind the “Dog Tornado” is for the dog to remove the bones, and then turn over the various sections of the game board to discover treats. The game has various obstacles built in to increase the challenge.

If more proof was needed that the pet industry is booming, consider, another booth selling candy for your dog. Stella & Chewy’s actually had bite sized pieces of premium freeze-dried meat, Carnivore Kisses. A jar full of 100% meat treats. The increase in spending in the pet industry is leading pet manufacturers to create all kinds of products in an attempt to gain business.

That creativity is clearly on display at the Pet trade show, where a dizzying array of products compete for the attention of the human pet owners who are the ones doing the outsize spending.

The Pet trade show is an example of a broader pet devoted trend. During the last presidential race and Obama’s early days in the White House, the search for “the first pooch,” a family dog for the first family, got a whole lot of attention. It seems as though the doggie trend is here to stay.

Nathana O’Brien contributed to this post.

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