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In a Jefferies survey of pet owners, 81% reported using dry kibble pet foods, while 50% used wet or canned varieties.

Dry dog food dominates, with premium sales up

Surveys show overwhelming preference for kibble among pet owners

Dry dog food, or kibble, remains a staple in almost all U.S. dog owners’ homes, with approximately 94% of U.S. dog owners using kibble consistently for the past decade, while sales of wet or canned dog food also increased from 35% to 38%.

“Dry is an enormously successful product format, and has been for decades,” said David Sprinkle, publisher and research director for research firm Packaged Facts, during a presentation at Petfood Forum 2021.

According to Packaged Facts data collected from MRI Simmons, from the spring of 2013 to spring 2021, dry dog food varieties from Blue Buffalo, Purina One and Hill’s Science Diet have increased in usage rate. Blue Buffalo increased from 3% of dog owners using the products to 8.9%. Purina One grew from 4.6 to 8%. Hill’s increased from 4.8% to 6.9%.

“Blue Buffalo has really come to the top,” said Sprinkle. “Purina One is doing very well for itself, with its premium positioning within the mass market. You can see that Hill’s has gotten some new steam, in part due to the dilated cardiomyopathy situation, a bit of a pendulum swing back to scientific positioning, rather than natural.”

During that same period, usage rates in the U.S. declined for Pedigree, Beneful, Purina Dog Chow and Kibbles ‘N Bits. Pedigree decreased from 10.7% to 7.7%. Beneful dropped from 13.1% to 6.1%. Purina Dog Chow declined from 8.6% to 6.1%. Kibbles ‘N Bits decreased from 8.7% to 5%.

The findings were similar in research provided by financial services firm Jefferies, also presented at Petfood Forum. According to Jefferies’ survey on pet owner brand preference, dry kibble remains the most frequently bought dog and cat food. Of the 1,450 survey respondents, 81% reported using dry kibble pet foods, while 50% used wet or canned varieties. Seventeen percent bought fresh pet food while 9% purchased raw. However, when asked which products they would buy if cost and availability were not a factor, those numbers shifted. Kibble dropped to 36% and wet to 21%. However, 34% of respondents would buy fresh and 7% raw, if money was no object and the products were readily available.

Based on that survey, Jefferies ranked the top 15 pet food brands named by pet owners:

  1. Purina (unspecified sub-brand) - Nestle-Purina - 13%
  2. Blue Buffalo - General Mills - 7%
  3. Other (Top: Fromm #27 at 1%) N/A - 7%
  4. Beneful - Nestle-Purina - 7%
  5. Pedigree - Mars - 6%
  6. Dog Chow - Nestle-Purina - 5%
  7. Kirkland Costco private label - 4%
  8. ONE - Nestle-Purina - 4%
  9. Pro Plan - Nestle-Purina - 4%
  10. Hill’s Science Diet - Colgate - 3%
  11. Taste of the Wild - Diamond Pet Company - 3%
  12. IAMS - Mars - 3%
  13. Rachel Ray Nutrish - JM Smucker - 3%
  14. Royal Canin - Mars - 3%
  15. Kibbles ‘n ‘Bits - J.M. Smucker - 3%
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