One of the few bright spots of 2020 has been a seeming increase in petadoptions, as people sheltered at home during the pandemic with new cute,furry (feathered or scaled) companions. Market experts have even credited anadoption boom with helping raise sales of pet food and other pet supplies.

But, is the adoption surge real? In “Pet Industry Overview: Fall 2020” frominvestment firm Cascadia Capital, Managing Director Bryan Jaffe shared datafrom PetPoint showing that, through September 2020, dog and cat adoptions weredown year-over-year by 25% overall, with a similar decline for dogs and catsentering shelters. What have risen are pet fostering rates, up 8% overall. Thedata is sourced from 1,200 animal welfare organizations, Jaffe wrote.

Thus, while consumer surveys from Packaged Facts and others reported 8% ofrespondents adopting a pet this year specifically due to COVID-19 and 10% ofcurrent U.S. pet owners acquiring another pet during the initial phase, it maybe misleading to interpret that as a boost to pet population and productsales.

“Don’t buy all the COVID-19 adoption hype,” Jaffe cautioned . “While manyshelters may be empty, constraints in movement for both intakes and outcomesover a long enough period does not allow for population growth.” He added thatprivate sales and adoptions factor in, but not sufficiently enough to bridgethe gap in pet population.

Whatever the state of pet adoptions or acquisitions, another recent surveyshowed U.S. pet ownership status holding steady, with only 2% of respondentshaving had to give up a pet through September 2020. The latest American PetProducts Association’s (APPA) “COVID-19 Pulse Study: Pet Ownership During thePandemic” also revealed that 83% of respondents’ pet ownership situations havenot changed, while 9% said they had adopted new pets. The source of theadoptions was not given, though the study did show 2% had fostered pets.

However, 10% of the owners surveyed said they may have to give up their pets,while 43% said the pandemic has significantly impacted their household’sfinances, and 55% are very concerned about their finances over the next year.

How might this impact pet food spending? Only 18% of the owners surveyed byAPPA said they plan to spend less money on pet food, given their currentfinances, while the same percentage plan to switch to a different brand tosave money. On the flip side, 72% said that because of the importance of theirpet’s diet, they don’t plan to make any changes to it regardless of theirfinances.

Source: Debbie Phillips-Donaldson Petfood Industry

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