Rockville, MD—U.S. retail sales of pet food are estimated at $20 billion, according to Packaged Facts, which is a 4.5% sales increase over the recessionary slump of 2011. That being said, with volume sales relatively flat, competition for every pet food dollar has never been more intense, according to a recently released report from Packaged Facts, Pet Food in the U.S., 10th Edition.

Marketers in the pet-food game have their sights set on offering unique products while dominating the premium/natural segment. According to David Sprinkle, research director for Packaged Facts, “As mass-market pet food sales stagnate, the action is in premium and super-premium foods, where growth has reached double digits in some segments.”

One interesting market driver, says Packaged Facts, is that pet specialty and mass-market brands are becoming more similar; to differentiate, companies are marketing their offerings as grain-free, “meat first” and human-grade products. Condition-specific products like weight maintenance and senior-support foods are hot, as are showcasing ingredients like glucosamine, omega fatty acids, antioxidants and probiotics.

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, September 2013