AR-News: (US) companion animal care biz booming
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Mon Jul 14 11:39:55 EDT 2003
SUPERZOO SHOWS PET CARE BIZ BOOMING
The Ithaca Journal, Elizabeth Kelly, July 14, 2003
Anaheim, Ca. -- If the fur and feather-boa canopy beds, lemon rosemary
chicken dinners and enameled jewelry on display at SuperZoo are any
indication, pets are living as well -- if not better -- than their humans.
In fact, Americans shelled out nearly $30 billion for pet care last year,
more than double what they spent a decade ago, boosting an industry that has
shown remarkable resistance during the economic downturn. If people are
spending less on themselves, the trend sure doesn't extend to their dogs,
cats, birds and fish.
"Don't tell anyone," whispered a vendor hawking all-natural bath products at
the the 53rd annual pet industry trade show this weekend, "but I use the
shampoo and conditioner myself."
More than 450 companies from around the world rented booths in the Anaheim
Convention Center this weekend, hoping to impress an expected 9,000
attendees, most of them independent retailers and distributors.
With more than 100 new exhibitors showing up at SuperZoo each year,
innovation is the key.
"It's a very entrepreneurial industry," said Doug Poindexter, executive vice
president of the World Wide Pet Supply Association, which hosts the event.
"A lot of these products are the result of a pet owner figuring out
something for their pet, seeing people love it and then deciding to market
Consider bird-lover Vickie Canepa, who worked as a stunt person before
launching her Los Angeles business, Fetch-it Pets, three years ago. Her
best-selling invention: the Polly Wanna Pinata, a colorful bird toy filled
with dried fruit, nuts and seeds.
Canepa was inspired when she saw the reaction of her birds to a pinata she
had in her house. "The birds got to it, and they just tore it apart." Canepa
introduced the $8 product last year at SuperZoo, and sales have tripled
Many exhibitors hope to catch the attention of industry giants Petco, which
has headquarters in San Diego, and Phoenix-based PetsMart. PetsMart saw
revenue increase more than 7 percent last year to $2.7 billion, and Petco is
hot on its rival's tail, with 2002 revenue of $1.5 billion, up 16 percent.
"PetsMart and Petco are telling us that even though people are losing their
jobs and people are becoming more careful with their spending, they have not
spent less on their pets," said Vivian Ma, an analyst at CIBC World Markets
in New York.
Today, cats, dogs and other pets are members of 62 percent of American
households, according to the American Pet Products Manufacturers
Association, a Greenwich, Conn., based trade group.
Because much of what pet-care companies supply is food for these pets, they
have been spared the hard times that have fallen on other industries.
"Apparel, for example, has felt more than twice the impact," said David
Cumberland, an analyst for Baird's U.S. Equity Research.
The gaggle of exhibitors at SuperZoo suggests a vast number of other pet
"needs" that pet owners seem more than happy to meet. For the music lovers
of the breed, dog trainer Steve Brooks and his band K9 Fusion offer a
soundtrack of the canine life, featuring Brooks' dog Sven on bass, piano and
guttural growl. The active beach-loving pooch may want "doggles" protective
eyewear from Midknight Creations. Grandma Lucy's will soon roll out
vegetarian and wheat-free alternatives to their already sugar-, salt- and
While food and veterinary care are still the mainstays of pet care
purchases, spending on extras has more than doubled since 2001, from $97 to
$215 annually, according to a study by Unity Marketing, a Stevens, Pa.-based
research and consulting firm specializing in luxury markets.
Beds for Dogs and Cats has had no problem selling their custom-made pet beds
and chaise lounges, though they retail for over $300. In 16 months of
business, it has sold its products to more than 100 stores across the
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