ROME — ASSALCO, the Italian Association of Pet Food and Pet Care Industries, shared May 12 the country’s pet food market sales grew 4.2% between 2019 and 2020.

In Italy today, more than 60 million households own a companion animal, including dogs, cats, small mammals, birds, fish and turtles. The sale of dog and cat food products was considered “the most significant voice” of the Italian pet care market in 2020, reaching €2.26 million ($2.76 million USD) in sales., ASSALCO stated.

Roughly 626,000 tons of dog and cat food were sold in 2020, an increase in volume by 2% from 2019.

Note: Euro to USD conversions are based on May 18 exchange rates.

The association reported cat foods accounted for 53.2% of the total Italian pet food market in 2020, at a value of €1.2 million ($1.46 million), up 5.9% from 2019. Dog food sales made up 46.8% of the market, up 2.3% to €1.06 million ($1.29 million) in sales compared to 2019.

ASSALCO will release more details about the current state of the Italian pet food and pet care markets at Zoomark International, to be held Nov. 10-12 in Bologna.

"2020 confirmed the positive trend of the Italian pet food and pet care market,” said Gianmarco Ferrari, president of ASSALCO. "In a dramatic moment such as the COVID pandemic, the role of pets in the family has become even more important, as evidenced by the attention of Italians to the nutrition and wellbeing of their pets, essential elements for their care.”

Ferrari added that Italy’s rate for value-added tax (VAT) — a consumption tax taken as a percentage of the total cost of a luxury product — is higher than other European countries and, with some pet care products falling into that category, it’s important for ASSALCO to continue lobbying to reduce that tax burden on Italian pet owners.

"Today in our country, pet food and veterinary services are burdened with a 22% VAT rate,” he said, as those categories are considered luxury items. “In other countries, such as Germany, taking into account the social role of pets, the VAT rate on pet food is 7%, less than a third of that of Italy. We therefore want pet food and veterinary services to be relocated to the 10% facilitated VAT scale."

Read more global pet food and treat news from outside North America.