Organic Pet Food Sales Growth Outpacing Other Pet Foods

Lance Castro, left, and Guy Miracle, owners of the Modern Dog in Venice, sell several brands of freeze-dried raw food and premium kibble. (Ricardo DeAratanha, Los Angeles Times)

Venice, LA – Organic foods are no longer just for humans. Many pet owners are now switching from traditional pet foods to gluten-free, raw and organic varieties. One of the more popular varieties is Sojos dehydrated dog food. It contains a mix of sweet potatoes, turkey, apples, flax meal and other ingredients and sells for $21.99 for a two pound bag which when water is added makes ten pounds of dog food.

Nationwide retail sales have increased for organic and natural pet foods and are expected to grow three times as fast other pet foods through 2015 according to an industry report that came out this week from the Packaged Facts market research company. Industry analyst David Lummis, who wrote the report, estimated that natural and organics would grow 12% a year on average, hitting $2.8 billion in 2015. By comparison, he expects an average 4% annual growth rate for the entire pet food market over the same period. Overall pet food sales will reach $22.1 billion in 2015, Lummis said.

Annual sales figures for organic and natural pet foods showed a substantial increase from 2002 to 2009 when annual sales hit $84 million, according to the Organic Trade Association. Organic and natural pet foods still only make up a tiny part of the overall pet food market and can cost as much as 30% more than regular pet foods. However, they did get a boost in sales in 2007 when pets died from eating regular pet food that contained imported wheat gluten and rice protein contaminated with melamine.

As with food for people, there are no regulations governing the word “natural” on pet food labels. But pet foods marketed as organic must meet the same U.S. Department of Agriculture standards as human food in the category, according to USDA spokesperson Soo Kim.

At the Modern Dog, a boutique in a Venice bungalow, co-owner Lance Castro was looking to add two new brands of freeze-dried raw food and premium kibble to the seven he already sells. “It’s done wonders for our business,” said Castro, who opened the Abbot Kinney Boulevard store with Guy Miracle five years ago.

“People are treating their dog food like some people are treating their baby food,” said Todd Martin, vice president of marketing for Castor & Pollux Pet Works, a Clackamas, Ore., company that makes organic pet food and treats. “They want to know it’s safe, and they want to know it’s quality.”