APPA, one of the leading trade groups for the pet care industry, represents more than 900 pet product manufacturers, their representatives, importers and livestock suppliers. Previous president and CEO Steve King retired on 31 December 2021 after serving in the post since January 2019. APPA executive vice-president and chief operating officer Andrew Darmohraj acted as interim CEO while the association’s board engaged in a search for a permanent chief executive. In Peter Scott, it has found the perfect choice for the role: a look at his CV shows that he is a proven industry leader with more than 20 years of experience in different non-profit organisations. He had worked since 2019 as CEO of the American Academy of Optometry, but had already had extensive contact with the pet sector prior to that as CEO of the North American Veterinary Community, a non-profit organisation dedicated to supporting and advancing veterinary professionals worldwide.
A sector on the upturn
Increasing the professionalism of the pet supplies sector, expanding its international footprint and providing member companies of APPA with new stimuli for their daily operations are among the priority aims that Scott is striving to achieve in his new role. “I love the pet industry,” he says candidly, pointing out how much the human-animal bond has changed in the last few years. The proud owner with his wife of a Mini Golden Doodle, Scott perceives plenty of growth potential in the pet industry. This is a reasonable proposition, as the US pet supplies sector grew rapidly during the Covid-19 pandemic in particular. Overall sales in 2021 amounted to 123.6 bn dollars, an increase of 19 bn dollars over 2020. 70 per cent of US households own a pet, which equates to 90.5 mio homes, according to the APPA National Pet owners Survey 2022.
Scott doesn’t think that current political and economic problems such as fluctuating pet supply chains, inflation or shortages of raw material will have much impact on the success of the pet product industry. “In the short term, the challenges will make themselves felt even in the pet sector to some extent,” he believes. In the long term, however, the new APPA CEO doesn’t doubt the industry will have a bright future. Scott points to the countless technical changes unfolding in society in the last few years, such as e-mobility or autonomous driving. “The pet sector, too, will continue to change and invest in new developments,” he adds.
“Premium will stay strong”
What will be the leading trends in the pet industry? Scott is confident that pet humanisation is set to continue to drive sales of pet products and services in future. Other growth drivers for him are the increasing desire for ever more individualised products and services. He also views the wide-ranging possibilities of pets improving the work-life balance of their owners as exciting.
The growing bond between pet owners and their pets is another reason why the APPA CEO is in no doubt that the trend towards premiumisation of the pet supplies market, which intensified during the pandemic, will continue in the long term. “Premium will stay strong,” he says, citing the desire of most pet owners to keep their pets well fed and healthy.
Scott is looking forward to the next Global Pet Expo, which APPA will stage together with the Pet Industry Distributors Association (PIDA) from 25 to 27 March 2023 in Orlando as usual. “2023 will be a year moving us a little closer back to how it was before Covid-19,” he thinks. This year’s show proved highly promising and demonstrated that the desire for in-person trade shows remains strong in the pet supplies industry. He was particularly pleased with the growth in visitors from South America at this year’s fair, and expects that the international spread of the Global Pet Expo will return next year to the level seen before the coronavirus pandemic.