Pet Industry Evolution on Display

The dynamics impacting the ever-changing pet care market are impossible to miss here at Global Pet Expo 2018.


The Halo, Purely for Pets team is teaching retailers why a whole food approach to nutrition is the healthiest option for pets.


Retail buyers found a show floor overflowing with opportunities as they bustled in to start the first day of Global Pet Expo 2018. Featuring record numbers of exhibitors and booths, this year’s show is a testament to the ongoing strength of an industry that is expected to surpass $70 billion in sales this year.

“The industry is in the best place it’s been in for a long time,” says Mark Hirschberg, president of Multipet International (booth #3535), noting that the variety of suppliers participating in the pet care market is broader and deeper than it’s ever been.

That is great news for pet specialty retailers, who continue to benefit from positive trends in pet owner demographics, but depend on key vendor relationships to keep up with the evolving demands of shoppers. 

“The industry continues to grow,” says Tom Wien, marketing director for Cardinal Laboratories Inc. (booth #2455). “Of course, some of that is because of the economy, but it is largely driven by the growing pet ownership trend.” 

Wien points to Millennials, in particular, as a driving force for pet industry growth, explaining that retailers and vendors must be prepared to meet the unique preferences of these shoppers. 

This is a notion that is echoed by Myron Lyskanycz, CEO of Halo, Purely for Pets (booth #1349), who says that the demands Millennials place on pet products will play a huge role in shaping the industry moving forward.  

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen this category on the cusp of such a big transformation,” he says. “When you look at satisfaction levels, 70 percent of Boomers say they are satisfied with their current pet food brand, but only 47 percent of Millennial say the same thing. They don’t trust the ingredients, they don’t trust the transparency and they don’t trust that the foods are safe—that is such a wakeup call.”

To better meet the expectations of today’s discerning pet owners, Halo offers whole food based diets, treats and, now, supplements—all designed to work in concert to provide pets with the highest quality nutrition. “You can’t meet all of a pet’s nutritional needs with just a diet, because those needs change from one pet to another,” says Lyskanycz. “That is why we created this line of whole food based supplements to address specific conditions.”

Cardinal is another company that understands the increasing demand for wholesomeness in pet nutrition, and it has responded with a new line of Organic Train-Me! Treats. These treats are certified to contain 70 percent organic beef or organic, antibiotic-free, free-range chicken, along with other organic-quality ingredients.

Nutrition isn’t the only area of the market that has been affected by evolving consumer demands. According to Leslie Yellin, executive vice president of Multipet International, the fact that consumers—and retailers—are becoming more educated than ever is making it necessary for all vendors to raise their game. “If you have an inferior product, you will fail,” she  says. “You must have quality—and that makes the product and factory testing that we do at Multipet so important.”

This year, Multipet is introducing the Archie Ball, an interactive toy designed with smart technology that engages dogs and amuses owners by talking and lighting up. 

Rising to Meet Big Challenges
While there are many opportunities out there for pet stores to drive their businesses forward, today’s fast-changing marketplace is also full of challenges for traditional retailers. Not surprisingly, competition from online outlets is front and center among these concerns for brick-and-mortar retailers.

Like many industry executives, Steven Shweky, top dog at Fetch…for pets! (booth #1435), has strong feelings about the impact that ecommerce is having—and will continue to have—on the pet care market. 

“It is a really interesting time in the industry,” he says. “We’re seeing seismic shifts in the business. The effect of ecommerce is the biggest game changer right now, and it is putting a lot of pressure on pet specialty retailers.”

Traditional pet stores must find answers on how to effectively compete with this growing part of the market, and Shweky says vendors with the right ecommerce approach can be a key part of the solution.

“Brands have to protect their retail partners and control the narrative online,” he says. To this end, Fetch…for pets! has made enforcement of its minimum advertised price (MAP) policies its biggest priority this year. 

According to Shweky, his company’s lineup of products marketed under popular brands from the human world can also play directly into the competitive advantage that traditional pet stores have over their online counterparts. “Recognizable brands can be part of the answer for brick-and-mortar stores,” he explains. “The biggest competitive advantage that these retailers have is the shopping experience, so they have to keep their assortments fresh and new.”

At this year’s show, Fetch...for pets! is showcasing new Burt’s Bees grooming tools and oral care items, GLAD feeders, and Arm & Hammer air-care products.

Like Fetch…for Pets!, many vendors at this year’s Global Pet Expo are working hard to help their brick-and-mortar retail partners remain a healthy, thriving part of the marketplace—and for good reason. 

“Pet specialty is the heartbeat of this industry,” says Yellin.  


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