As more pet owners open up their refrigerators to feed Fido, more brands are bringing their own flavors to the rapidly growing category of fresh pet food.
Blue Buffalo is testing a new line of refrigerated dog food at 200 stores, the next frontier in its quest to grow the Natural Pet Food brand owned by General Mills.
Bethany Quam, President, Pets Segment, General Mills, based in Golden Valley, said: “It’s very human — a resealable deli container that can be made into a complete meal or placed over a bowl of dry food.”
Pet food is a steadily growing market, fueled by an increase in pet owners during the pandemic and their willingness to spend more on pet meals and treats.
But fresh pet food is growing much faster than the category as a whole, and is expected to nearly triple to a $16 billion market by 2027, according to TechNavio.
“The simple idea is that we want our pets to eat like family,” Quam said. This humanizing trend is seen as key to the sustained growth of pet food.
General Mills already had some stake in the fresh pet food market. The company’s venture capital arm, 301 Inc., has invested in fresh dog food delivery service PetPlate.
But as more pet owners return to the office or move out of the house, they typically leave behind bowls of kibble rather than fresh or wet food.
So, in addition to the fresh produce pilot, Blue Buffalo is committed to innovating and updating its entire portfolio. A new car-friendly container for treats. Efforts to increase the number of cat owners purchasing in the natural category.
“It’s about staying aware of where the pet parent is,” Quam said. “We make sure we have the right product in the right place.”
The brand also aims to expand internationally later this year or early 2024. First, we will focus on increasing sales in China after successful testing in China.
General Mills’ pet segment reported sales of $2.3 billion in fiscal 2022.
“We believe Blue Buffalo retail sales could add another $2 billion over time,” Chief Executive Jeff Harmening said at an investor conference on Tuesday. rice field. [market] Share within the premium segment. ”
Blue Buffalo is coming out of its rare pause in growth It was caused by a lack of manufacturing capacity, which retailers cut inventories and were unable to meet demand.
Harmening said “customer orders are growing well” this quarter, and the pet segment is expected to report double-digit sales growth.
General Mills on Tuesday also raised its outlook for the rest of the fiscal year ending May, boosting the company’s share price by 4%. . This is double the initial guidance for this year, which had already been amended last fall.