Pet food
Source: Getty

Some canned cat foods have been hard to come by in recent months.

Canned Cat Food Shortage Update: Will Things Get Better in 2023?

Mohit Oberoi, CFA - Author

Jan. 12 2023, Updated 12:15 p.m. ET

Not only has it been difficult for consumers to get products like lumber and biscuits, but pet owners have also been dealing with shortages of certain brands of pet food in 2022 as well as the aluminum cans and meat used for the food. Issues with supply-chain delays have impacted a number of industries, even the distribution of canned cat food.

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In the spring of 2021, reports of canned cat food shortages started to appear. The causes include pandemic-related disruptions like the closure of plants that make the food and packaging materials, as well as increased demand due to the boom in pet ownership amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

friskies canned cat food
Source: Friskies Facebook

Friskies cat food

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Reuters reported that about 12.6 million U.S. households got a new pet between March and December 2020, according to the APPA (American Pet Products Association). Not only have some cat foods and treats been in short supply for months, but prices have increased for some pet products.

The supply chain issues that are impacting the food supply chain in the U.S. were expected to get better in 2022. However, the fast spread of the omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus played a dampener.

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Why is there a canned cat food shortage?

The canned cat food shortage is a supply chain issue. Higher pet adoption has boosted the demand while the supply hasn't kept pace. The labor shortage situation in the U.S. has meant that companies are struggling to run the plants at full capacity.

Global logistics issues have also added to the problem. Manufacturers are having a hard time getting some of the raw materials. The packaging material shortage, including aluminum, has also made the canned cat food shortage worse.

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The truck driver shortage means that goods are taking longer to get from factories to stores. There have also been hoarding behaviors. Some pet owners might have loaded up on supplies amid the shortages. which only adds to the strain on the supply chain.

The Pet Food Institute has urged pet owners to only buy the amount of food they need for their cat or dog to prevent unnecessary strains on supply levels.

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The APPA shared data showing that, in 2020, the pet industry market grew to $100 billion for the first time. Pet food was the main reason for this growth, with $42 billion in pet food sales in 2020. Also, Nielsen data showed that pet owners spent 46 percent more on online pet food purchases in 2020 versus 2019.

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What brands have been impacted by the cat food shortage?

It appears that the canned cat food shortage is impacting a few brands and not the entire industry. Many pet owners have learned the hard way that their pets will tolerate only a specific brand or type of food.

Fancy Feast, Friskies, and Beyond have been in short supply at some retailers. These brands are all made by Purina, which is owned by global food and beverage giant Nestle.

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Friskies wet cat food has been especially in short supply. Apart from empty shelves at supermarkets, the delivery times have been extended if you try buying the products online. Purina also cautions on its website that some products are in short supply at some stores.

When will the canned cat food shortage end?

Although the global supply chain issues were expected to ease in 2022, according to Fveap, a nonprofit dedicated to feline veterinary emergency assistance, there's still a slight cat food shortage.

In July 2021 and April 2022, pet food factory incidents also played a role and further hindered aluminum production exports, and the Chinese government enforced rules to improve carbon emissions issues. The shortage, however, may end in 2023.


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