In most countries pet food is seen as a necessity of life; as is human food. This means there are no barriers for its sales, lockdown or no lockdown. The main question is: will specialty outlets (pet shops etc.) stay open or not? In a lot of countries only supermarkets and pharmacies are allowed to stay open and serve the public.
I see 2 possible scenarios unfolding themselves. People that normally shop for their pet food in specialty outlets will start to buy at the supermarket; probably a different brand, but still pet food. Or they start to buy their usual brand and product online.
The question is: will people go back to their old habits when the Corona pandemic is definitely behind us (if it ever will be)? Or are people satisfied with the situation they were “forced” to get used to during the pandemic? In other words, is the change of behaviour structural and lasting?
I am convinced that we will see change. Whether this change of today’s behaviour is massive or small, most pet food manufacturers are not ready to deal with it. It will be disruptive and influence business-models and “ways we do things” that slowly got engraved in tablets of stone. If online mushrooms to Chinese levels, which manufacturer can cope? Who has an online strategy that sees online as a distribution-channel in its own right? Instead of part of an omni-channel “strategy”.
Who is ready to partly shift sales from specialty to mass market?; if a substantial number of pet food buyers make this shift. If all parties stick to the current status quo there will be bloodshed because the fishing will be in a smaller pond!
Maybe the situation post-Corona will be the same as the one pre-Corona. When we had to admit that “we didn’t see this coming so we are not prepared”. I hope this is not the case.