Despite the rising cost of living and poor economic prospects, many people in Germany don’t seem to be saving on their pets. The pet industry was able to further increase its sales last year. “This is due, on the one hand, to price increases and, on the other hand, to the ongoing willingness of owners to provide good and sustainable care for their pets,” explained the President of the Central Association of Zoological Specialist Companies (ZZF), Norbert Holthenrich, at the Interzoo trade fair in Nuremberg. More than 2,100 exhibitors from 69 countries will be showing their new products there until May 10th.

Almost 16 million cats – the market in numbers

According to ZZF, sales in the German pet industry exceeded the seven billion euro mark for the first time last year – and increased by 9.3 percent compared to the previous year. Only in the UK did people in Europe spend more on their pets. The industry is doing well, said the chairman of the pet supplies industry association, Georg Müller.

One reason: No other European country has as many pets as Germany. There were more than 34 million last year, not counting fish and reptiles. Cats were in first place with 15.7 million, followed by 10.5 million dogs. Aquariums no longer seem to be so popular at the moment: according to ZZF, sales in this area have fallen significantly.

Sustainability is also important for animal feed

Many people value environmental friendliness not only in their own everyday lives, but also with their pets. Many owners bought regional products and, if possible, avoided products with a lot of outer packaging, said Holthenrich. It is important to them that manufacturers pay attention to environmental protection.

Sustainability is also playing an increasing role in pet nutrition, as can be seen at the international trade fair. A number of manufacturers offer products that rely on regional raw materials and should be as pure as possible – i.e. without additives or grains in dog food. What is needed is “pet food as nature intended,” said Thomas Schmidbauer from the Austrian company MaMaChris Petfood.

Another trend is vegetarian dog food and insects as a protein source. The population’s demand for meat is declining, explained Müller, who is also managing director of the manufacturer Interquell Petfood from Wehringen, Bavaria. “This impacts the availability of slaughter by-products, which are an important part of the dog and cat food we produce.”

He currently sees vegetarian food in particular as a real alternative, also with a view to the climate footprint. Whether food is competitive with insects also depends heavily on the price, said Müller. Currently these are generally even more expensive than meat, but that could change in the future.

AI and smart litter boxes

Artificial intelligence and other smart products presented at the trade fair are intended to make everyday life with pets easier. A cat flap with an integrated camera is intended to prevent prey from getting into the house. Owners can control the temperature and light in terrariums and aquariums using an app. A self-cleaning litter box sifts out clumped litter after every trip to the toilet and places it in a trash bag. There is also a clipper that sucks up cut fur immediately. This creates less mess and work – and you can save money because you don’t have to go to the dog groomer as often, says Anke Schüschke from the manufacturer Trixie.

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