While recent reports show only mild growth in Western European petfood markets such as Italy and Germany, the region still accounts for a significant amount of petfood knowledge, activity and, for lack of a better term, buzz.
These are only one person's observations after I was fortunate enough to spend two weeks in Europe earlier this month, first organizing Petfood Forum Europe and attending Victam International in Cologne, Germany, then traveling to visit petfood plants in Spain and Italy, culminating with a day at Zoomark in Bologna, Italy. But the fact that growth is still happening despite ongoing economic doldrums (including in Spain and Italy) backs up my impressions, I believe.
Petfood Forum Europe on May 4 turned out to be a day of worthwhile industry knowledge and enthusiastic participation from 130+ petfood professionals from throughout Europe and the world. (Check out videos of some of the speakers.)
The conference was held in conjunction with Victam International 2011, the large agrifeed show that featured dozens of petfood equipment suppliers and their impressive new extruders, driers, hammermills and the like. (See a video of a new packaging machine.) The Victam Innovation Award winners included some of these suppliers, such as Buhler and Amandus Kahl.
My travels the following week included a visit to the plant of a small but very interesting company, Biologia y Nutritcion, near Zaragoza, Spain. Its innovative business model -- it's the petfood category producer and manager for Mercadona, a 1,000+ chain of supermarkets in Spain, an arrangement exclusive to both companies -- has catapulted it to a 39% share of the Spanish petfood market in just four years. (Watch for an article in Petfood Industry later this year.)
Last but certainly not least, Zoomark 2011 was abuzz with new pet products, visitors and conversation the day I attended. This pet trade show, which just completed its 14th edition, alternates with Interzoo (held during even years in Nuremberg, Germany). While not nearly as large as Interzoo, Zoomark is growing increasingly international, with 363 exhibitors from 37 countries this year, according to the organizers. Many petfood companies exhibited, not just ones from Italy but also multinationals as well as manufacturers from throughout Europe, the US, Latin America and Asia.
Watch for data on the European and other petfood markets in the July directory issue of Petfood Industry.