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Sector Trend Analysis - Pet Food Trends In Germany

July 2017

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Executive summary

The German pet food retail sector is a multi-billion dollar market. In 2016, Mintel estimated the retail value of pet food sales in this country to be nearly US$3.4 billion. Germany is the largest economy in the European Union (EU) and the fourth-largest economy in the world. Furthermore, Germany is a leading market for pet food products. Germany's pet food market is steadily growing and sales are dominated by dog and cat food. If the trend continues, total sales of pet food will climb to around US$ 4 billion by 2020.

Canada's participation in the German pet food market remains negligible, despite increased exports of dog and cat food between 2012 and 2014. However, there may be opportunities for processors to gain market share by taking advantage of high end markets, driven by the ‘humanization' of pet food. Particularly, health and wellness trends are being transferred to the pet food sector, increasing demand for specialty pet products such as functional foods.

The primary functional claims being promoted by the pet food industry in Germany are identical to those endorsed by human consumer goods: no artificial ingredients; no gluten; no sugar; organic; high protein; high in vitamins; and no artificial color.

The main subsectors studied in this report include cat and dog food only, but ‘other' pet food developed for birds, fish, small mammals and reptiles, offer another potential market for Canadian exporters.

Pet population

While there were some fluctuations in the German pet population over the years, the pet population was estimated at around 34.5 million animals in 2016.

As of 2016, 22% of German households owned a cat. Cats are highly popular pets amongst German consumers, especially those living in relatively in urban areas in small apartments. They are also preferred companion where dogs are not allowed as pets. Even though they are often considered less interactive than dogs, many cat owners establish a close and positive relationship with them.

Despite the increasingly limited living space, especially in larger cities, the tendency to keep two or more cats is likely to continue. Nevertheless, the growth in the cat population is expected to remain low, accounting for a stagnant customer base. At the same time, the significance of providing high quality and living that is more natural and feeding conditions for cats is high, or even increasing in the years ahead.

Pet population in Germany in 2016

Source: Industrieverband: Heimtierbedarf (IVH)

Pets in Germany are often welcomed as providing balance to their owner's hectic lives and sometimes even viewed as taking the place of a partner or child. They are often considered beloved companions that enhance their owners' wellbeing and quality of living.

German households with pets

Source: Industrieverband: Heimtierbedarf (IVH)

Even though the dogs are not as popular as cats in Germany, their population of 7.9 million remained stable, and significantly smaller than the cat population. As of 2016, 16% of German households owned a dog.

Dogs are also viewed as supporting their owners' fitness and health and as helping them to reconnect with nature on their daily walks. As a result, the pet population is growing at rates almost parallel to the number of small households according to Euromonitor.

The pet population is growing

Source: Industrieverband: Heimtierbedarf (IVH)

Germany is the second in Europe in terms of number of pets owned, at 34.5 million to Russia's 47 million, which ranks number one. Industrial Association of Pet Care Producers (German: Industrieverband Heimtierbedarf - IVH) and The German Pet Trade and Industry Association (German: Zentralverband Zoologischer Fachbetriebe - ZZF) data show that 43% of German households own at least one pet, and 58% of families with children own a pet. Unlike the rest of the world, where dogs are most popular, cats rank number one in Germany, with 12.9 million (22% of all households) to 7.9 million dogs (16% of households). There are also 5.1 million small animals owned as pets in Germany (6% of households).

Retail market size

As the third largest consumer retail market for pet food in the European Union, Germany had retail value sales of just over US$3.3 billion in 2016, with over US$1.7 billion spent on cat food and just over US$1.4 billion on dog food.

Historic retail value sales of pet food in Germany, in US$ billions, per capita pet food spending in US$ and growth %
Retail value sales Units 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Value US$ billion 3.44 3.66 3.78 3.26 3.35
Spend per capita US$ 42.70 45.26 46.53 39.82 40.65
Value growth % −4.80 6.30 3.30 −13.70 2.60
Source: IVH, ZZF, Information Resources, Inc., Economist Intelligence Unit, Trade Interviews, Mintel

Pet food in Germany saw a successful year with regard to volume (+2.5%) and current value growth (+2.6%) in 2016. Even though the German pet food market is considered mature and saturated to certain extend, it saw strong competition. However, innovation and growing demand for premium products will continue to drive the growth in the year ahead.

Forecast retail value sales of pet food in Germany, in US$ billions, per capita pet food spending in US$ and growth %
Retail value sales Units 2017 2018 2019 2020
Value US$ billion 3.40 3.46 3.70 3.85
Spend per capita US$ 41.26 41.96 44.79 46.60
Value growth % 1.70 1.80 6.70 4.00
Source: IVH, ZZF, Information Resources, Inc., Economist Intelligence Unit, Trade Interviews, Mintel

The historic retail compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of pet food in Germany was evaluated at 3.1% value growth and 1.1% volume growth from 2011-2016. Mintel forecast that pet food sector in Germany is forecasted to reach value sales of over U$3.8 billion with a CAGR of 2.7% value growth and 0.5% volume growth.

Germany pet food retail market compound annual growth rates
Retail market 2011-2015 (%) 2016-2020(%)
Value 3.1 2.7
Volume 1.1 0.5
Source: Mintel

The top pet food companies in Germany in 2016 were Mars Inc. (21.7% of the total market value share and 15% of volume share) with their brands of Pedigree and Whiskas, followed by Nestlé SA (10.8% value, 5.9 volume) and their brands of Purina Beneful and Purina Fancy Feast/Gourmet, and Vitakraft Werke Wührmann & Sohn GmbH & Co. KG (3.8% value and 2.0% volume) and their brand of Vitakraft.

Germany - Pet Food: Company retail market share by value (%)
Market Player 2014 2015 2016
Mars Incorporated 24.3 23.0 21.7
Nestlé SA 9.8 10.3 10.8
Vitakraft-Werke Wührmann & Sohn GmbH & Co. KG 3.6 3.7 3.8
The Procter & Gamble Company 2.3 2.2 2.1
Private Label 34.4 35.5 36.6
Others 25.6 25.3 25.0
Source : Mintel

Private label brands continuously increased their shares, rising from 49.7% to 52.5% between 2014 and 2016. Collectively, private label brands have rapidly increased their market penetration between 2010 and 2016. However, from the available data, it is not possible to ascertain whether certain private label brands fared better than others within this category.

Germany - Pet Food: Company retail market share by volume (%)
Market Player 2014 2015 2016
Mars Incorporated 16.8 15.9 15.0
Nestlé SA 5.7 5.8 5.9
Vitakraft-Werke Wührmann & Sohn GmbH & Co. KG 1.6 1.8 2.0
The Procter & Gamble Company 1.1 1 0.9
Private Label 49.7 51.1 52.5
Others 25.1 24.4 23.7
Source: Mintel

Over 60% of the retail sales of pet food are from private label brands and small pet food manufacturers (the other category). In 2016, these two groups accounted for 76.2% of volume pet food sales. Largely because of the growth of private label sales. The proportion of sales from others pet food companies market share, were stable during the review period.

Market segmentation

Convenience is the main reason for the increasing popularity of prepared pet food in Germany. Dry or wet food is easier to handle, can be stored longer, and produces less waste. New pet food brands have done a good job of convincing potential consumers of the benefits of this type of pet food, marketing it as healthy, based on wholesome ingredients and offering a balanced diet.

Mintel notes that almost all of the cat food consumed in Germany are prepared, accounting for 98% of total cat food consumption. The only way to achieve significant sales growth in the future will be by increasing the sales of premium food products in order to raise the value of cat food marketed in Germany.

Germany - Pet Food: Retail market segmentation by volume 000' tonnes
Segment 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Total 932 947.8 961.5 972.9 985.6 1000.7 1004.9
Cat 513.6 529 540.6 550.8 556.7 550.6 555.4
Dog 418.4 418.8 420.9 422.1 428.9 450.1 449.5
Source: Mintel

The cat food market in Germany is led by Mars, and Nestlé and together they have a nearly 33% market value share according to Mintel. Although the growth of the cat food market has slowed recently, the biggest growth was still in cat treats due to an increase in the sales of functional and premium products.

Mintel also predict that the cat food market will perform better than dog food because the German population is aging and cats are easier to look after than dogs. The good performance of cat treats is also due to the pet humanization trend in Germany. Segmentation and specialized products will continue to prevail in the cat food market in Germany. Products featuring specific health benefits are expected to perform especially well.

Wet cat food will continue to constitute the majority of the overall cat food sales. Premium cat food will be a major driver of overall cat food growth. However, economy wet cat food will likely grow due to the rising popularity of private label products.

Germany Cat food: Retail market segmentation by volume 000' tonnes
Segment 2013 2014 2015 2016
Cat 550.8 556.7 550.6 555.4
Wet 441.9 446.8 445.0 453.5
Dry 108.9 109.9 105.6 101.9
Source: Mintel

Mars and Nestlé are also the major players in Germany's growing dog food market, accounting almost 50 % of total dog food sales in 2016. Total value sales of dog food in Germany were close to US$ 1.7 billion in 2016 according to Mintel. Dog treats and mixers, dry dog food, and wet dog food each account for about a third of total sales.

The humanization trend in the dog food market is notable in the increasing success of premium dog products and specialty dog foods. Manufacturers are broadening product ranges by targeting specific breeds, sizes, and ages. Sales of therapeutic dog food have also increased; however, it remains a small niche product due to high prices. Premium dog food and dog treats are expected to be the primary drivers of future growth according to the German Industrial Association of Pet Care Producers (German: Industrieverband Heimtierbedarf, IVH)

Germany Dog food: Retail market segmentation by volume 000' tonnes
Segment 2013 2014 2015 2016
Dog 422.1 428.9 450.1 449.5
Dry 236.9 239 239.5 236.4
Wet 185.2 189.9 210.6 213.1
Source: Mintel

Distribution channels

Pet food distribution in Germany is also primarily done through modern grocery retailers in particular supermarkets and hypermarkets. Supermarkets accounted for 28.4% of store based retailing pet food sales, followed by hypermarkets with 22.3%. Non-grocery specialists such as pet superstores and pet shops combined accounted for 27.0 % of pet food sales in 2016.

Germany pet food sales by distribution channels in % in 2016

Source: Mintel

Mintel notes that the German pet food market is considered mature and saturated, but also separated in two main positioning, with both premium and economy-priced food doing well. Premium pet food products are mostly sold through specialty shops, while mid-priced products are available both in specialty shops and in supermarkets. Supermarkets and discounters mostly sell economy lines. Economy lines or private label products account for over 50% in volume sales and 36% in value of all sales.

The Internet is gaining in importance in the pet food sector in Germany. According to estimates from the industry and trade, the online sales volume in 2016 hovered around 460 million euros (US$ 500.0 million). However the sales were not differentiated, species-specific data on the online market for ”prepared pet food” as well as ”pet accessories” were not available.

German imports

In 2016, Germany‘s total dog and cat food imports were in excess of US$1 billion. Nine of the top ten suppliers to the German market were European countries. In terms of both the volume and value of imports, the Netherlands and France were the most important suppliers of dog and cat food to Germany, holding 19.4% and 14.2% market shares, respectively in 2016. Thailand was the nearest competitors to these leading European suppliers, accounted for little over 3% market share of dog and cat food imports (measured by value) in 2016.

Germany import statistics of dog and cat food put up for retail sales (Harmonized System - HS: 230910) in US$
Country 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
World 875,127,753 1,010,196,443 1,138,398,548 1,069,080,277 1,069,185,018
Netherlands 218,243,938 213,792,655 233,619,223 231,139,079 207,331,413
France 119,947,230 131,654,380 155,610,437 146,072,989 152,267,786
Poland 28,269,911 43,347,729 61,309,483 80,664,215 117,401,862
Liechtenstein 102,118,524 122,059,145 153,346,781 130,122,220 105,695,525
United Kingdom 58,256,675 69,888,825 78,225,125 71,752,860 75,542,932
Austria 51,743,767 59,916,012 63,739,247 54,593,315 66,004,763
Hungary 74,589,797 112,408,460 112,724,112 92,527,655 55,879,115
Thailand 22,230,142 30,080,681 36,480,481 34,974,746 33,133,433
Belgium 14,511,195 20,903,531 19,596,679 13,510,046 26,322,730
Canada 453,828 819,798 1,342,303 178,047 417,324
Source: Global Trade Tracker 2017
Germany import statistics of dog and cat food put up for retail sales (Harmonized System - HS: 230910) in tonnes
Country 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
World 504,283 516,284 563,750 620,895 637,537
Netherlands 163,223 134,163 148,835 174,196 169,560
France 67,802 67,769 83,773 96,838 105,830
Poland 21,854 30,988 40,296 56,934 85,557
Liechtenstein 50,989 59,028 68,992 71,606 62,116
United Kingdom 31,225 36,228 37,082 38,038 45,022
Hungary 44,463 61,561 67,130 66,431 35,080
Austria 16,955 16,104 16,048 16,612 21,862
Belgium 12,724 21,873 17,609 12,521 16,702
Spain 2,446 5,773 8,569 9,179 12,433
Canada 219 309 543 94 201
Source: Global Trade Tracker 2017

New products analysis

According to the Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD), there were 2,903 new pet food product launches in the German market between January 2012 and March 2017. In the three months of 2017, there were 95 new products. Over half (57.8%) of the launches were completely new products and 29.5% were new varieties or range extensions. The most commonly used claim was no additives/no preservatives, which appeared on 47.2% of the total launches, followed by “Pet-adult” with 42.5%, and “low/no/reduced allergen” with 23.7%. Approximately 26.5% of the total launches were in the cat food wet product subcategory and 26.5% were in the dog snacks and treats. Over 65% of the product launches were branded label.

Number of new pet food product launches in Germany
Product 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 (March)
Total new products 680 416 683 365 664 95
Source: Mintel GNPD
Number of new pet food product launches in Germany (Top 5 launch type)
Launch type 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 (March)
New Product 416 216 465 191 362 29
New Variety/Range Extension 186 135 164 116 205 50
New Packaging 62 48 40 32 72 9
Relaunch 6 14 12 14 22 5
New Formulation 10 3 2 12 3 2
Source: Mintel GNPD
Number of new pet food product launches in Germany (Top 5 claims)
Claim 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 (March)
No Additives/Preservatives 224 141 331 224 384 66
Pet - Adult 180 140 261 226 365 63
Low/No/Reduced Allergen 89 36 215 87 238 23
Low/No/Reduced Sugar 105 74 139 118 203 37
Premium 103 61 149 68 125 21
Source: Mintel GNPD
Number of new pet food product launches in Germany (Top 5 subcategories)
Subcateory 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 (March)
Cat Food Wet 204 103 137 122 181 21
Dog Snacks & Treats 175 104 173 68 186 22
Dog Food Wet 85 87 90 80 121 23
Cat Snacks & Treats 64 62 112 57 62 16
Dog Food Dry 57 35 110 15 57 4
Source: Mintel GNPD
Number of new pet food product launches in Germany (Top 5 companies)
Company 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 (March)
Fressnapf 60 34 38 51 48 14
Mars 61 43 28 30 33 8
DM Drogerie Markt 20 25 19 23 34 9
Vitakraft 36 9 33 1 28 3
Nestlé Purina PetCare 30 21 18 12 12 3
Source: Mintel GNPD
Number of new pet food product launches in Germany (Branded vs private label)
Label 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 (March)
Branded 517 452 435 292 168 40
Private Label 166 228 229 124 197 55
Source: Mintel GNPD
Number of new pet food product launches in Germany (Nutrition claim)
Claim 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 (March)
Protein (listed on pack) 546 290 625 236 348 90
Fibre (listed on pack) 512 282 592 222 334 82
Ash (listed on pack) 479 265 579 208 325 80
Fat (listed on pack) 426 264 517 207 319 76
Moisture (listed on pack) 399 202 494 183 281 70
Source: Mintel GNPD


The European Pet Food Industry Federation (FEDIAF), was established in 1970 and represents the pet food industry in 26 European countries. FEDIAF function is to collaborate with authorities, regulators and academics to achieve positive conditions for the supply of safe, nutritious and palatable pet products (FEDIAF, 2015-A). FEDIAF has developed guidelines and a code for nutrition and labelling of pet food.


FEDIAF developed “Nutritional Guidelines” for basic nutrient levels in cat and dog food and other animals. To review the complete guide, visit the FEDIAF website:


Pet food labelling in the European Union (EU) is primarily governed by EU regulation 767/2009. For more information on the specific labelling requirements in the EU, please visit the following website: EU Regulation - 767/2009

FEDIAF, based on interpretation of EU regulation 767/2009, established a “Code of Good Labelling Practices for Pet Food,” which addresses three basic functions: 1) consumer information on product use; 2) control and enforcement; and 3) marketing and retailing. The following information is legally required on pet food labels (FEDIAF, 2015-B):

To review the complete code, visit the FEDIAF website:

In addition, EU labelling requirements will change for each type of pet food (compound, single ingredient, dietetic feed); additivities in pet food are regulated; and genetically modified (GM) ingredients contained in pet food must come from an approved GM crop and must be labelled. In addition, to learn more on export requirements for meat by-products to the EU, exporter's should consult Chapter 11 of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's (CFIA)'s Meat Hygiene Manual of Procedures.

For more information

International Trade Commissioners can provide Canadian industry with on-the-ground expertise regarding market potential, current conditions and local business contacts, and are an excellent point of contact for export advice.

For additional intelligence on this and other markets, the complete library of Global Analysis reports can be found under Statistics and Market Information at the following link, arranged by sector and region of interest: Agri-Food Trade Services for Exporters

For additional information on Anuga 2017, please contact:

Ben Berry, Deputy Director
Trade Show Strategy and Delivery
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada


Sector Trend Analysis: Pet Food Trends in Germany
Global Analysis Report
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