Talking Shop with… Andrew Darmohraj
By Grocery Headquarters Staff
Andrew Darmohraj, executive vice president and COO of the American Pet Products Association, says the Global Pet Expo has evolved into the standard show in the pet industry. Talk about the state of the pet category. Andrew Darmohraj: The pet category is very strong and continues to grow. Pet ownership increases year-over-year and we see more instances of multiple pet ownership. Consumer spending on pets is also increasing, especially with consumables. What is driving sales in the category and where are the best opportunities? There are nearly 180 million dogs and cats kept as pets in the U.S. So logically, the majority of consumer spending in the pet category is on dog and cat products. Within dog and cat products, the majority of spending is on food and treats, so there is great opportunity for retailers in those areas. Another area that has gotten a lot of attention from consumers is the natural segment. We have seen demand for natural products increase dramatically. Talk about the upcoming Global Pet Expo. How can it help grocery retailers become better merchandisers of pet products? This year marks the 10th anniversary of Global Pet Expo. It takes place March 12 - 14 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., and more exhibitors are registered this year than any year previous. It is a great buying opportunity for grocery retailers, in particular, because every major pet product manufacturer is present. Because of the March timing of the show, most manufacturers debut their new products. There are usually 3,000 new product launches at the show. We also have a large New Products Showcase that is segmented by animal category. A buyer can go into that area and very quickly determine what the trends will be for that year. Visiting the show for a day or two can help a retailer figure out what pet owners will be looking to buy over the next year. What events are being featured this year and how should retailers work the show? The best way to work the show is to plan ahead. If a retailer wants to meet with some of their current vendors or if there are companies a retailer may be interested in, we recommend that those appointments get scheduled first. Most of the exhibitors show their full product lines at Global Pet Expo, so there is a lot to see. Retailers definitely want to spend some time in the New Products Showcase to see what new things are coming to market. The area for first-time exhibitors is also an area worth visiting. We also offer free networking events that let you get together with other industry professionals in a more informal setting. Is there anything geared specifically toward grocery retailers at the show? In 2014 we are introducing an education opportunity specifically for grocery and mass market buyers. The session, “The Future of the Pet Industry: Profiting from Our Changing Demographic Trends” will be held on Wednesday, March 12, 2014 from Noon-1:30. The session will address how consumer demographics are driving pet today and tomorrow, urbanization and how it will affect pet ownership and pet products, technology and how to best utilize it as well as defend against it, economics and future growth in pet. It is a great session that talks about where the pet industry is heading.