Pet Adoption, Food Sales Grow as Birth Rate Slips

Birth rates fell for the sixth consecutive year to the lowest levels since 1979, according to the CDC. The number of births in the U.S. declined last year by 4% from 2019, double the average annual rate of decline of 2% since 2014, reported CNBC (May 5).

Interestingly, while birth rates are down, pet adoptions are up. The National Pet Owners Survey of 2019-2020 found that nearly 85 million families in the U.S. own a pet. And with pet adoptions up, so are premium pet product sales.


Many pet owners are increasingly focusing on what they are feeding their four-legged friends as the number of pet food recalls doubled from 16 in 2017 to 32 in 2019.

And with pet owners focusing more on what ingredients their pets are consuming, the pet dietary supplement market is expected to grow at a CAGR of about 6%  through 2031 and reach a valuation of $6.9 billion, according to Transparency Market Research.


Brands have taken notice of this trend and more premium pet food lines are entering the market. For example, Walmart recently launched a line of veterinarian-formulated pet food products under its private label Pure Balance brand, reported Pet Food Processing (May 5).

The new line, which caters to a variety of specific needs—such as sensitive skin, weight loss, and age—include four formulas for cats and five formulas for dogs. These new dog and cat diets include added vitamins and minerals and are free from fillers and artificial ingredients, according to Walmart which is marketing the products as “super-premium.”

Meanwhile, KKR & Co. bought a New Zealand premium pet-food company, Natural Pet Food Group. The move will not only support the brand’s international expansion, but move them into the category of sustainably sourced, high-meat pet food.

“Our business is about providing pet owners with the very best in natural, high-meat nutrition for the four-legged members of their families,” said Neil Hinton, CEO of Natural Pet Food Group in a press release.

Ben & Jerry’s even delved into the pet food market earlier this year with its Doggie Desserts offering. The treats are just as premium as their human counterparts, made of the same ingredients used in Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, but with a sunflower base that’s gentler on dogs’ stomachs.


As the plant-based and CBD trends continue to grow for humans, the category is growing in the pet world, too.

Transparency Market Research found that the growing preference of many pet owners toward opting for vegan food for pets is giving rise to a number of plant-based dietary supplements, while CBD gains ground in the pet supplement industry as owners try to tackle anxiety and other problems among their furry friends.

For more on this topic, keep an eye out for the upcoming Food Institute video on pet humanization. Coming Soon.