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62 per cent of U.S. households owned a pet. In 1988, the first year the survey was conducted, 56 per cent of U.S. households owned a pet; this increased to 62 per cent in 2008. The survey reveals that there were an estimated 86.4 million cats owned in the US together with 78.2 million dogs; there were also no less than 151.1 million freshwater fish.

Financial Nuts and Bolts The Annual Business Survey has replaced what used to be known as the Annual Business Inquiry; a cynical civil servant acquaintance of mine says that the word ‘Inquiry’, in contrast to the much more emollient ‘Enquiry’, was overly redolent of the medieval thumbscrew and rack. Nevertheless, the series potentially provides the most available

source of industry data. Specifically, it splits the total for prepared animal feeds (Standard Industrial Classification Revision 2007 10.9) into two sub-categories: manufacture of prepared feeds for farm animals (SIC 10.91) and manufacture of prepared pet foods (SIC 10.92). Recently revised data for 2011 has become available which

suggest that turnover in the sector has fallen from £2,017 million in 2009 to £1,898 million in 2011. The number of enterprises involved in the manufacture of prepared pet foods has declined over the same period by sixteen to 141 enterprises. Data for 2012 will not become available until November this year. It may be that the data for 2009 – 2011 is indicative of the recession

or of a consolidation in the industry or a combination of both factors. I have to say, at the outset, that the available data for the manufacture of prepared pet foods is less convincing than that for the manufacture of prepared feeds for farm animals. The data for 2008 shows total turnover at £1,206 million rising, the following year, to £2,017 million, an increase of 16.7 per cent at a time when the UK was supposed to be in recession. To be sure, this could be accounted for by the arrival, in the survey, of three new ‘enterprises’. But if one takes the series as a whole, going back to 1997, it looks suspect from a statistical point-of-view.

Research Curiosity I am intrigued by collaborative research carried out between the School of Biological Sciences, University of Sydney, Australia, and the Institute of Natural Sciences, Massey University, New Zealand, showing that healthy pet cats regulate their protein, fat and carbohydrate intake in a way that mimics the type of food they would eat in the wild. This is what the researchers called ‘a fascinating discovery’, given the fact that cats have been domesticated for thousands of years yet still select a diet which is nutritionally similar to their natural prey The research, carried out over a two-year period at the Waltham

Centre for Pet Nutrition, demonstrated that cats have an intake target that equates to approximately 52 per cent of their daily calorie intake from protein, 36 per cent from fat and 12 per cent from carbohydrate. Researchers are understandably intrigued to know more about why cats have this ability; the study’s lead author noting that ‘It is particularly remarkable that, even after thousands of years of domestication, still select a diet nutritionally similar to their natural prey’. Perhaps cats are just naturally conservative. However, Waltham

intends to pursue further research in this area and will now focus on the selection of these key nutrients relative to various stages of the cat’s life, including gestation, lactation and growth. Meanwhile, the study is to be extended to include dogs.


Notwithstanding this, however, it appears that cats can change

their tastes in cat food over the years. For example, a study shows that, whereas a cat once liked dry food, with the passage of years, its tastes may change and become an enthusiastic fan of food from the human table. The author’s cat evolved a keen interest in human food and the clatter of cutlery that accompanied the laying of the supper table was sufficient to bring her in from wherever she had been wandering. However, personal digressions apart, experts will point out that

while feline tastes can change, cats (and, indeed, other animals) should be given foods with the required nutrient content appropriate to the animal’s age and condition. As one veterinarian drily remarked during the discussion on this topic, ‘the major reason people give their cats human food is to make us feel better, not them.’ In addition, giving food for humans to pets can put the animal in danger of choking on, for example, residual bone while the fat content of certain human foods can cause a range of intestinal problems.

Emerging Pet food Markets In this series, I have frequently drawn attention to developments in the emerging economies with particular emphasis on China. However, this ignores the other constituents of the so-called BRIC counties. The world market for pets and pet products is now growing dramatically, with a significant number of countries recording higher than ever proportions of pet ownership and spending. While the U.S. and the U.K. have long been the leaders of the

world pet market, a number of other countries are emerging as global pet forces with which to be reckoned. In fact, worldwide sales of pet related products and services reached a reported $85 billion in 2012, demonstrating the resilience of the market despite the global economic turndown in the developed world following the financial crash of 2007-08. One source predicts that this global market for pet foods and products will reach $95.7 billion by 2017. Euromonitor International, which is a major source of data for

these world markets for pet foods and products reports that growth in a number of these markets has been accelerating over the past five years. Industry commentators attribute the growing world pet market in part to the global ‘humanization’ of pets, whereby more and more cultures now regard companion animals as integral family members with all the rights and privileges involved. The Chinese economy may have slowed down over the past

eighteen months, yet there is ample evidence that certain industries are continuing to grow very rapidly. According to news and pet industry reports, China’s pet industry began to really take off within the last five years. Not only is the trend attributable to the country’s ongoing economic development, affording the average citizen greater disposable income, the Chinese have joined the pet lovers of the world in regarding their critters as beloved family members. According to one report, the Chinese market for pet foods and

products has grown by 28 per cent over the last five years, as the economy has grown and an emergent middle class with significant disposable incomes has turned to pet owning. Several sources also attributed growth to China’s new legislation regarding pets whereby the cost of a dog license fees was lowered from $285 a year to $42. Research reports indicate that Indian consumers, although they have been slow to embrace commercial pet foods, opting instead to

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