According to a National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pets Products Association (APPA), approximately 85 million families — 67 percent of U.S. households — own a pet, and that figure continues to increase in light of the current COVID-19 crisis.
“The pandemic has impacted every aspect of life in our country, and the pet space is no different. For example, there’s been a spike in pet adoptions since the pandemic began,” notes Julie Wong, Champion Petfoods’ spokesperson. “All of those first-time pet owners need help navigating their new responsibilities, and so the industry will need to find a way to ensure new pet parents have the right resources to provide the best care and nutrition for their pet.” With a surge in pet ownership across the country, the pet care industry has become a prosperous hub for potential job opportunities.
Mark Cushing, the founding partner and CEO of the Animal Policy Group, is the author of “PET NATION: The Love Affair That Changed America” (Avery, September 8, 2020). In his book, Cushing notes that 1.3 million Americans make a living in the pet economy. As a comparison, he sites Walmart, which employs 1.5 million Americans. “Historically, animal-based employment jobs have been limited to veterinarians, breeders, etc.,” explains Cushing, “but the list is longer now and more colorful, including some roles you might have never known existed.” Some of the jobs he mentions range from a pet-food tester (not “taster”), who evaluates food on various metrics, including smell, flavor, texture, palatability, nutritional content (for this, a PhD is often required), to an animal colorer, an artistic endeavor akin to a makeup artist found in film, television, and advertising (like the person who paints the ring around the Target dog’s eye). His book details a diverse list well worth discovering. Cushing also notes that the industry is an interesting category to work in for a number of reasons.
“Pets, for the most part, are associated with the fun parts of life. For example, if you’re working with dogs, they respond quickly, and the work tends to be instantly rewarding and fun. With a lot of jobs, those are two words you wouldn’t usually use to describe a position — that’s number 1. Number 2, to the extent that you are engaged with the pet owner or pet parent in the type of work you do, they are so grateful, and they give you instant feedback and gratitude,” says Cushing. “Number 3, which is stirred by the evolution of our pet nation, is that the industry offers essentially recession-proof and pandemic-proof jobs. Pets aren’t a fad anymore; they’re not accessories. The whole culture around pets is burgeoning, and regarding the demographics and market forces for millennials and Gen Zers, we’ve barely seen anything yet. You can be in the industry and be pretty comfortable that you are going to have a job for a long time, and you can move around and do other things. The nice part about pets is that they are rural, urban, suburban, east, west, north, south — they’re all over. Your partner can move somewhere, you can go along, and do whatever you need to do with pets. It’s not a job that’s tied to one location, and that offers some flexibility.”
For manufacturers, there are additional reasons that make working in the pet industry an interesting category to work in. “We’ve always been driven by the opportunity to bring something new and unique to the table. We come from humble beginnings, starting in 1979 producing dog food in a feed mill in Alberta, Canada,” says Wong. “Today, we’re driven by the same focus as our founder: to make the World’s Best Pet Food using premium ingredients. Working in the pet industry offers an opportunity to get creative and make a positive difference in the lives of so many pets — and their families.”
The industry shows no signs of slowing down in areas such as food as pets and pet owners remain hungry for maintaining their good health and longevity. “According to Statista, in 2019, pet food sales in the U.S. came in at approximately $36.9 billion. In 2020, that number is expected to grow to around $38.4 billion. This growth reflects what we already know — pet ownership is growing, and pet parents have a closer relationship with their pets than ever,” explains Wong. “They consider their pets a part of their family and want the best for them. The continued growth in the sector combined with the increased focus on health and wellness make Champion Petfoods well-suited to provide pet lovers what they’re looking for.”
Interested in working in the burgeoning pet sector? Explore our PetForce division.