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We live in exciting and challenging times: the “new normal”, as it is termed by the motto of this year’s International Pet Conference. There will surely be no lack of conversation topics for the conference delegates when they meet in Bologna on 11 and 12 October: supply bottlenecks, energy supply problems, raw material shortages, climate change, high inflation rates and growing uncertainty for pet owners. All these issues are currently occupying people’s minds, while the coronavirus pandemic is also far from completely over.

The last few decades have witnessed a number of major crises. The most recent of these was the financial crisis of 2008, with effects that reverberated across the globe. For the most part, the pet supplies sector proved relatively stable and cap-able of weathering those tough times. This time around, the varied nature of the crises facing us has challenged not only consumers but industry as a whole. Nevertheless, many factors suggest that the pet sector will once again cope better with the current challenges than many other branches of the economy.

The much-discussed reticence of consumers to buy is only perceptible in a few instances at the moment when it comes to pet products. It is experienced most noticeably with regard to accessories, sales of which have declined slightly in many countries in recent months. In part, however, this is also due to the fact that pet owners have invested so much in scratching posts, leashes and beds in the last year that market saturation has occurred, which has little to do with the current crisis. In the case of high-priced foods, one or two consumers may indeed switch to another high-quality, but marginally cheaper pet food. It is also reported from the USA, where inflation rates have climbed into double figures, that some pet owners are increasingly opting to buy smaller packs of their favoured super-premium and premium pet food. There are no recognisable indications that the majority of pet owners are suddenly migrating to cheap food, nor is any trend towards generally trading down foreseeable with regard to pet products. Consumers are doubtless keeping a closer eye on prices again at the moment, however. Will this prompt them to buy online or from discount stores more frequently? This does not…

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