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The animal sector in Europe - Pet food : players, trends

The pet care sector is flourishing. In this article, we are going to study the animal feeding market at the European level, the main players, trends and prospects.

The pet care market in Europe

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The animal sector and, in-particular animal feed, are very successful in all European countries. Indeed, whether it is farm animals or pets, Europeans are very close to the animal world, hence the significant growth of the food associated with it. In 2021, 153.6 million tonnes of compound feed were produced, an increase of 1.7% compared to the previous year. The top three producing countries in Europe are Spain, Germany, and France. The sector also represents 150 groups with more than 200 companies and 310 factories, which generate 15,200 jobs.
The production of compound feed in the EU is distributed as follows, 33% for poultry, 28% for ruminants, 34% for pigs, and 5% for other sectors. In 2022, the turnover of the entire market at the European level was 6.7 billion euros. There is a significant share of cooperation, with 41 cooperative groups and 66 companies, which together represent 60% of the composite production. In the field of cooperation, there were 5,500 employees at the end of 2022. The market also represents a very diversified range of raw materials.
Animals are the main consumers of cereals in Europe, with 9.2 million tonnes of cereals used by the animal industry. The British market could experience an increase of 4.5% between 2022 and 2027 according to initial estimates. The animal feed market at the European level is segmented by type of animal, products, ingredients, and also distribution channels. This is a flourishing sector of activity, with developments that are promising for the years to come. In this article, we are going to study this market, highlighting the main players, trends as well as prospects.

The offer: a few players present on the market

Among the multitude of players present on the market, it is possible to cite The JM Smucker Co on the market since 1897. It was not until 2018 that the group acquired Ainsworth Pet Nutrition for the sum of $1.9 billion. The group owns brands such as Milk-Bone, Meow Mix, and Nature's Recipe, as well as a dozen other brands. The company wants to be environmentally conscious, with a large number of ongoing projects in several areas, whether environmental or educational. In 2022, the turnover in the field of animal feed amounted to more than 26 billion dollars.
The Nestlé group has also been present on the market for several years, with a turnover of 25.8 billion euros in 2022. Emerging markets are ever present for 41% of this company, which has existed for more than 150 years. The group also has 1,868 establishments on 18 sites with more than 25,000 employees. Nestlé is a group that has more than 60 different brands in several areas, including 8 specialised for animals.
Another group, Mars, has existed since the early 1900s and has a turnover of 45 billion dollars, or around 41 billion euros. The group has more than 4,000 employees, 9 sites, and 8 factories. Mars Petcare is a global pet nutrition brand. The group owns more than 10 brands. Its growth in Europe has been stronger since 2007, with an increase of 24.9% since then. The health crisis has had little impact on the animal feed sector since it concerns vital needs.
Finally, Waggfoods is a brand of British origin whose products are available at several online retailers. The group has existed for more than 50 years and works daily for the well-being of animals as well as their link with the environment. In 2022, the group recorded a growth of 3.9%, with a worldwide turnover of 39.7 billion dollars, or approximately 33 billion euros.

Demand: new goals, new trends

For more than 20 years, demand has been growing in the feed segment in the animal sector in Europe. Indeed, the number of individuals owning pets has grown over the years. In Europe, more and more people love animals, and France is the country in Europe that has the most animals. In Europe, there are approximately 110 million cats, 90 million dogs, 52 million birds, 30 million rodents, 9 million reptiles, and 15 million aquariums.
Gradually, the demand has evolved among consumers, who, as for themselves, are looking for more natural and sometimes even "homemade" food for their animals. Consequently, this has led to the appearance of new vendors.
If the market becomes more dynamic, it is also more complex. More than 65% of European households owned a pet in 2022, and consumers are more concerned about transparency in labels and the ingredients that actually make up food. By 2025, the market is expected to exceed 70 billion euros. Consumers are increasingly better informed, and are, therefore, more aware that certain foods could alter the nutritional balance of animals and cause more fatal diseases. Over time, the laboratories carried out more measurements and tests, thanks to working with specialised animal nutritionists. The trends are diversifying, vegan, raw, freeze-dried, or even dehydrated kibble and other foods are healthier and more sustainable.
We are also witnessing the appearance of new ingredients, such as insect proteins (fly larvae, crickets) or even Koji mushrooms, which are more durable, but only exist in the form of treats. Ancient cereals are used more, such as oats, buckwheat, spelled, and quinoa. Players like Petco offer fewer artificial ingredients in their recipes. All in all, animal nutrition trends in Europe are moving closer and closer to human nutrition, with 87% of owners wanting healthy nutrition more than ever to help their pets live longer. Finally, it should be noted that top-of-the-range food is also becoming increasingly important, more than 25% in the space of 6 years.


The world of animal feed in Europe has changed a lot in the space of a few years. It is no longer just a question of feeding your animals but rather of bringing them the best on a daily basis. To do this, it would seem that in the years to come, some trends are emerging, such as the rise of the top of the range. In 2022, 45% of consumers preferred to pay more for their animals to be healthy. Homemade foods are also becoming increasingly important, as well as BARF, an acronym for Biologically Appropriate Raw Food which is increasingly found in Europe.
It is largely a question of feeding animals raw meat without any processed products. It is a so-called natural diet, without cereals, but which could, according to some professionals, involve risks in particular because of raw meat, which can bring certain bacteria in the long term. Anyway, this type of diet has been debated for a few years and remains something that could be developed in the future. The objective is to bring animal food closer to that of the wolf.
The pet food market is booming, and it is not likely to stop since, as we said above, Europeans are particularly fond of pets. In 2022, the turnover of pet food was 2.16 billion euros for 815 thousand tons of products produced. Animals are now considered members of the family, and this seems to have increased since Covid 19 when consumers became closer to their animals in order to feel less alone. Priorities have changed. However, organic is taking off faster in Great Britain than in France, with a 1.8% increase in organic animal feed in 2022.


In Europe, the animal feed sector has changed a lot over time. Indeed, animals are less and less considered simple animals. They are, for the vast majority of Europeans, full members of the family, and with this in mind, it is important to feed them correctly. What emerges essentially from this study is that the main trends show that animal feed is gradually approaching human food. The actors try to do everything possible to differentiate themselves from others by offering more natural and/or more "organic" products. At the European level this market has gradually become a veritable commercial niche where players are engaged in a merciless battle to attract European consumers. The bottom of the range is no longer the most sold among consumers. On the contrary, luxury products are now much more popular and chosen by consumers wishing to give the best to their animals. In the space of ten years, this market has seen a growth rate of more than 35% at the European level.


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