WELWYN GARDEN CITY, UNITED KINGDOM — Tesco, a multinational retailer based in the United Kingdom, on Dec. 6 announced it will stock its first plant-based pet treat to prepare for what it expects will be “the biggest ever Christmas for pets.”

The retailer is predicting demand for dog and cat products to be up by 25%, compared to sales in this category during last year’s holiday season. The Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association (PFMA) reported a 3.2 million increase in pet ownership during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown period in 2020 and continuing into 2021. Dogs led this pet acquisition trend in the United Kingdom, and cat ownership also significantly increased.

“We have been tracking the pet population for decades and one of the unanticipated outcomes of the pandemic has been the growth in pet ownership,” added Nicole Paley, deputy chief executive of the PFMA. “Almost 60% of UK households are now enjoying the incredible bond we have with our pets and the mental and physical health benefits this brings. Pets are important family members and rarely missed off the gift list, we expect it will be a very big Christmas for pets this year!”

The plant-based dog treat Tesco is adding to its product lineup is Softie Vegan Training Treats produced by Scrumbles, a natural pet food startup also based in the United Kingdom. The formula is gluten-free and “gut-friendly,” according to Tesco.

Other seasonal pet treat formulas to be sold under the Tesco brand include Christmas Pudding Biscuits for Dogs, Pigs in Blankets for Dogs, Mince Pies for Dogs, and Macarons for Dogs. The four Tesco pet treat products reflect humanization in the pet nutrition space and encourage pet gifting this holiday season. Tesco will also be selling pet calendars and stockings this season. 

Tesco selling several humanized dog treat products this holiday season

“As lockdown progressed, we saw demand for pet food and toys rise month by month and this Christmas is set to be the biggest ever for cats and dogs,” said Amelia Austin, pet category buyer at Tesco. “Last year we noticed a third of shoppers who bought items from our Christmas pet range didn’t buy anything from our wider pet range, suggesting they were picking up a gift for a friend or family member’s cat or dog. With pet gifting being a huge trend, we expect this to rise again this year.”

Austin also noted a 16% increase in premium pet food sales, which she attributed to the widespread humanization of pets.

Aside from seasonal treats, Tesco offers its own line of branded dog and cat food formulas year-round. The retailer shared it has removed all plastic, multiwrap packaging from its pet food portfolio, which is expected to remove 105 metric tons of the material from its supply chain annually.

Read more about new pet food and treat products.