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The Great Kibble Crisis of 2021

By Naomi Serviss

As some pet owners have already discovered when shopping at or Petco, a wrench has been thrown in the pet food industry’s business-as-usual routine.

Industry reports, including one from the American Pet Products Association, cite myriad reasons for the current pet food shortfall, which has especially affected prescription pet food.

Across-the-board cost increases of raw ingredients, processing, manufacturing and aluminum packaging, as well as labor and delivery systems, have jammed up the flow of goods.

The Pet Food Institute is already anticipating a 5.4% jump in consumer prices this year.

More companies are investing in renewable food sources, according to the Better Food Institute.

Container shortages, high cost of pallets and crumbling infrastructure further challenge the delicate balance.

Raw materials are harder to access due to competition between animal and plant-based industries.
Raw materials are harder to access due to competition between animal and plant-based industries.

The labor shortage during the pandemic is adding to an already difficult situation. The combination of raw material shortages, and newly installed worker safety Covid protocols at production facilities have also interrupted business as usual. Additionally, bad weather has affected vendor expectations.

To top it off, there are simply more hungry dogs and cats. Pandemic pet adoptions broke records, straining the food chain. More than 12.6 million U.S. households added new pets from March through December 2020.

Should you start hoarding Fancy Feast or 9 Lives Meaty Paté? Short answer: No. The current pet food shortage will hopefully not last long. Much depends upon the weather. Storms, floods, hurricanes and tornadoes impede the delivery chain from supplier to vendor.


Naomi Serviss is a New York-based award-winning journalist whose work has been published in The New York Times, Newsday, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Highroads (AAA magazine), in-flight publications, spa and travel magazines and websites, including



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