It seems hard to believe, but when it comes to packaged food – that is, ready-to-eat instead of made from scratch – pet food sales are expected to grow faster than human food sales, according to this observation from Fortune magazine. Human food products, from candy bars to snack chips to frozen microwavable dinners, are only expected to grow at a 1% rate in sales over the next five years, while pet food sales will grow at a 2.3% rate over the same period.
The reason behind this shift in priorities is actually pretty clear when you look at the Millennial generation. Parenting magazine reports that increasing numbers of Millennials are putting off raising kids. Birth rates are steadily dropping among adults younger than thirty. Millennials are a generation prone to sticker shock, being more cautious about amassing debt than their parents while having more desire to wait it out at home and generally start their lives later.
And what else could fill that gap left behind by the empty baby crib, but to adopt a pet? Check any Internet social network, and notice the pace of photos and videos posted about pets as opposed to babies. True, cute baby shenanigans get their share of adoration, but it really does seem that Millennials have more affection for animals. Maybe a handful of meme images about babies and kids are evident, but animal-based meme characters, including Grumpy Cat, Confession Bear, and Advice Mallard, seem to go on without end. In addition, pets are cheaper and have a lower time of commitment, just right to tie a Millennial over until they’re ready to take on bigger responsibilities.
The growth of pet ownership has triggered a round of pet product company buy-outs recently, as corporations position themselves to take advantage of the coming boom in the pet market. However, economists warn that if this trend continues, future generations could struggle to keep up a labor force necessary for a stable economy. Whatever the consequences, Millennials right now would rather play fetch than say that future generations are theirs to mold.