Founded in 1919, American Wood Fibers (AWF) is a family-owned and operated business, building a reputation as a leader in sustainable forestry products through innovation, hard work and caring for families. With pet bedding brands like PetsPick and America’s Choice, AWF strives to make a positive contribution to the environment through total waste utilization in its products, use of pre-consumed materials for its packaging and the development of environmentally friendly products. Amy Cohen, business development manager for AWF, shared some insights on the value of pet bedding for today’s pet parents.
What is currently trending in the small animal category?
Small pet ownership is on the rise. One trend seen across the small pet category is the increase in pet acquisitions and surprisingly pets other than traditional cats and dogs. According to recent Packaged Facts research, 12.2 percent of all US households own one (or more) type of pet other than a dog or cat up from 10.8 percent five years ago.
The trend that impacts Pets Pick the most is the consumer demand for natural/eco-friendly products. Petco recently made a bold commitment to the pet community “Petco is increasing their assortment of sustainable products to 50 percent by the end of 2025.”
According to Neilson, small pet bedding sales continue to grow and paper bedding is the leading growth bedding in the category. Paper bedding continues to see growth and new item introduction. Fun colors have been trending for several years. Seasonal colors for the holidays drive excitement to the category.
Another trend is that consumers are demanding larger habitats for small pets. According to a recent article, the manager at Quality Pet Market in Austintown, Ohio, is quoted as saying, “Many of our customers want to have a bigger area after they’ve had their pets for a while.” This means an organic increase for the bedding sales.
What are the different kinds of pet bedding?
There are several types of small pet bedding to meet different animal and consumer needs. The most common bedding types are pine, aspen, cedar and paper. When choosing the right bedding, consumers choose by scent, nesting ability, ease of cleaning and sustainability.
Paper bedding is the most dominant substrate bedding on the market and is seeing the largest growth in popularity and sales. The consumer has gravitated to this substrate because of its superior absorbency, low dust properties, and the fun colors. All PetsPick bedding options are natural and sustainability sourced and it’s also the only paper bedding that has SFI certification.
Pine is the original pet bedding having a long-proven history of being perfect for small animals. It’s the most affordable and still the bedding of choice from Chinchilla breeders. Pine is natural, cozy and fresh with an all-natural pine scent.
Aspen is scent free and the best option for people or pets with allergy concerns. Soft Aspen bedding is natural, safe and comfortable for burrowing. Aspen bedding is scent-free. Aspen bedding is also ideal for reptile habitats.
Cedar bedding offers a great cedar aroma and has natural insect inhibitor properties – it’s most commonly used for dogs.
What are the essential products that retailers should carry to serve the pet parents of small animals?
Due to the growth of small pet household acquisition, retailers should consider stocking a wide variety of products for small animals. What we find is that the small animal consumer gets short changed when it comes to a one-stop shopping solution including the pet, the habitat, bedding choices, food and accessories.
Small animal pet bedding is purchased 5-7 times per year which is great for repeat store trips and impulse sales. Consumers like choices and different small animals thrive with different products. Carrying a variety of bedding will help with repeat purchases. Pine, Aspen, Cedar and Paper. Paper bedding suppliers like PetsPick offer multiple sizes and colors. Get creative and have some fun. Stock those small pet habitats with color.
How do you advise retailers promote their small animal section to customers?
We recommend that retailers promote the small animal category the same way they promote cat and dog categories. Monthly promotions, consumer education, frequent buyer programs and introducing new products keep customers coming back. Promote paper and seasonal paper colors which can keep the category fun, new and increase incremental sales.
Educating the consumer on small pet products is key too- from the proper cage size, the bedding choice and the amount of bedding to use is all important for a new pet owner. Consumers need to understand the differences in the bedding types and what will work for their particular pet and their habitat. For example, Uber paper bedding is pre-consumed paper product, which offers a low dust, low odor, clean and safe option for all pets.
The correct amount of bedding is important. For example, it may surprise you to know that a hamster uses about the same amount of bedding as a rabbit, though they tend to be more than half the size. A 2005-2006 study showed that hamsters need four to six inches of bedding in their habitat. This bedding depth allows hamsters to create burrows, improving health and reducing stress. If a consumer purchases a 12 by 18 habitat, they need a minimum of 14 liters of product to fill the habitat one time. The minimum recommended purchase would be 56 liters, which would give the consumer a minimum of three changes per bag.
Is there any value to “Made in the USA” products in the small animal sector?
We believe “Made in the USA” products for small animals do add value to the consumer. The top reasons consumers prefer to purchase “Made in the USA” are typically its higher labor standards, better quality products, lower US budget deficit, safer products and that it keeps America working.
All PetsPick products are made in our own facilities across the country. Products that are made in the USA can offer local source material that is sustainable under local regulations and specs. Sourcing products from the USA remove additional planning with ordering from overseas and consumer frustration with out of stocks. Consumers desire stress free purchasing and find comfort in purchasing “Made in the USA”