Pet food sales are five times greater than baby food sales in the US (2023)

I hope I have these statistics correct and if I have, my research indicates that US dog and cat food sales increased 11% in 2023 over 2022 reaching US$51 billion. The numbers come from the pet food industry website. As for baby food sales, the global data website tells me that the market size in the United States for baby food in 2022 was US$9.3 billion. That’s about one fifth of the pet food sales market.

Pet food sales in the US outstrip baby food sales by a factor of five at 2023
Pet food sales in the US outstrip baby food sales by a factor of five at 2023
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1987

Going back many years, to 1987, Dr. Desmond Morris in his book Catlore, said this about the cat food sales and baby food sales market in the United States: “It is a sobering thought that in the United States the figure for cat food sales, which has doubled in the last eight years to an astonishing $2 billion a year, now exceeds that for baby food. In weight, Americans are now buying 2.2 billion pounds of cat food each year; not to mention a million tonnes of cat litter. There is no doubt about it, we are clearly living in the Age of the Cat.”

Well, you can see how the market has grown massively since 1987 but at that date cat food sales were larger than baby food sales. I have compared dog and cat food sales together with baby food sales in order to try to make comparison between living with a ‘pet’ and living with a baby.

Pope Frances

My mind, perhaps incorrectly, turns to what Pope Francis said not long ago about families in Italy preferring to adopt a pet rather than have a baby. He didn’t like it (see Gervais’ criticism of the Pope by clicking the link below). He wanted to see people having bigger families. I think he wanted it because Italy needs to ensure that their economy can grow. To achieve this, you need people. The basic mantra is a growing economy, which can only be achieved if the human population grows and the factories become more productive.

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Economic growth

It’s a bad mantra. It’s a bad model because it means we have to make more people and in northern Europe the indigenous populations have decided to stop procreating! They don’t like what they see in the world.

But in general, it would appear that many people are turning to adopting a companion animal rather than having a child. This doesn’t apply across the planet because in Africa they tend to have big families in order to improve the chances of survival of the family. But in the western developed countries the trend is toward smaller families and no families; just a couple of adults living together, unmarried, in a partnership.

Is it a good or bad thing? I’ve no idea! Families are meant to be good because you create a tight family unit which is good for raising children. But if you aren’t procreating there’s no need for a tight family unit to create a stable environment for a child.

Cost

Companion animals are sometimes a lot better than children. Sometimes people have pets as a starter family. For a start, pets are a lot cheaper, over their lifetime, to care for them. It is said that in general terms, it takes about £15,000 or $15,000 to look after a cat for their lifetime whereas it takes £250,000 to raise a child to independence. Perhaps, then, this is about a shortage of disposable income in an ever more competitive world because there are more and more people scrabbling over the spoils.

Russia

President Putin, in Russia, is throwing money at families to encourage them to procreate, to create large families because the population in Russia is declining. Why is that? Because Russia is not a good place to live. And he has made it a bad place to live through his autocratic, cruel and murderous dictatorship. He has increased spending on arms and the military to 30% of GDP which means that the citizens of Russia are suffering with much reduced social services of all kinds because far more Russian tax dollars are going into the military to fund the Ukraine war and possibly to start attacking other neighbouring countries.

Domestic cats in Russia, it seems to me, have a tough life. Firstly, it is very cold in winter and there are many stray cats living in the basements of abandoned buildings. That kind of thing. And I don’t think the general Russian population are particular sympathetic towards stray cats. Putin certainly doesn’t give a damn about animals and their welfare although he professes to support conservation efforts in the Far East of the Siberian tiger. That said, his bombs and shells had killed hundreds of thousands perhaps millions of cats and dogs and general wildlife in Ukraine.

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