Pets are no longer a niche market

One out of every two Belgian families has at least one pet. The Covid crisis has fueled a business that today weighs $230 billion worldwide.

More than one in two Belgian homes have them: pets live everywhere, a trend before the health crisis. Now we count 80 million cats and 70 million dogs in the European Union. That’s less than the United States, where cats (104 million) and dogs (89 million) literally crawl.

Belgium is no exception. There are 2.3 million cats and 1.6 million dogs. The Covid crisis was there. According to a survey of 2,500 Belgians by retail trade federation Comeos, In 2018, 10% of Belgian households had a pet. Today they are… 53%.

“The Covid crisis has led to a sharp increase in demand for animals. People are also spending more money on them.”

Samuel Van Lathem

CEO of Vadigran Company

Rising costs

Trade in animal products there is no niche market anymore. A four-legged friend has become a full member of the family and deserves to be well fed, pampered and entertained.

“The Covid crisis has caused a sharp increase in the demand for animals. People are also spending more on them, especially on accessories and food. With the end of the arrests, people started traveling again. Sales of accessories and flavors have declined, but not food sales, and the number of animals continues to grow,” explains Samuel Van Lathem, CEO of Belgium’s Vadigran (see box).

230 billion


The revenue of the global animal market is about 230 billion dollars.

11% annual growth in Belgium

The pet market is roughly equivalent to the baby products market. Globally, its revenue is about $230 billion. In Belgium, they reach 3.5 billion euros and grow by about 11% per year from 2018. The US represents the largest market ahead of Europe. Together they make up 75% of the world market.

The range of activities of companies in this niche is very wide. Added to the lucrative food trade (a dog owner in Belgium spends an average of €549 a year on feeding his pet). other cost items stimulated by a sedentary lifestyle due to arrests. Accessories, food, toys, but also care and medicine: the pet trade is rising more than ever. Even services for pets (grooming, walking, boarding, training) are developing.

A broken market

Since the 1970s, the livestock industry has undergone significant changes the increasing presence of multinational companiessuch as Swiss Nestlé (Purina, Friskies) or American Mars (Whiskas, Pedigree, Royal Canin, Sheba) in the food segment.

According to a Comeos survey, 17% of pet owners buy their food exclusively online.

There are countless hidden behind them small and medium-sized players that share a fairly fragmented animal market. This is split between traditional distributors (40%), specialist stores such as Tom & Co or Poils et Plumes (40%) and online trade (20%).

According to a Comeos survey, 17% of pet owners buy their food exclusively online. A sales channel that most distributors and specialty chains focus on capturing to avoid being swallowed up by their customers.

Vadigran relies on innovation to differentiate itself

After 67 years of existence, the Vadigran company now 3e generation. Since the summer of 2020, Samuel Van Lathem has taken over general management, while his sister Yana is in charge of human resources. With 120 employees, this SME is one of many links in an increasingly large and highly decentralized market for animal products.

Vadigran decided to differentiate itself from the competition by betting on innovation. After launching in the seed mixes niche in the 1950s, Vadigran gradually expanded its offer to pet accessories. “We are focused now special nicheswith some innovative products better meet the needs of consumers,” explains Samuel Van Lathem.

Headquartered in Lennik (production) and Ghislenghien (distribution and management), Vadigra has a turnover of €37 million, mainly manufacturing. in Belgium and France. It is present in about forty countries and intends to expand other markets nearby (Netherlands, Germany, Great Britain). “The idea is to travel 1,000 km around Ghislenghien, home to 300 million people,” says Samuel Van Lathem.

For this, Vadigran now relies on three different brands. Fantail focuses on accessories for dogs and cats, Emma’s garden targets garden animals and Yana active in “consumables” (animal feed, garbage). “During the last three years, our revenues have grown by an average of 15% per year. The goal is to increase this growth to 20% in the following years,” says the director of Vadigra.


  • with 80 million cats and 70 million dogs Trade in pet products in the European Union is developing rapidly.
  • An animal market that brings some Annual revenue of 230 billion dollars, approximately equal to baby products.
  • In Belgium, has reached the turnover of the sector 3.5 billion euros and has grown by an average of about 11% annually since 2018.
  • We hide behind giants like Nestlé or Mars small and medium actors who share a fairly fragmented animal market.

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