Pets May Offer Dogged Potential for European CBD Market Share

By Noah Tomares, Research Analyst, New Frontier Data

New Frontier Data has previously reported about the varied applications for hemp. From Europe’s strong processing infrastructure and finished-goods industry, to a broad range of consumable products, the continent is well positioned to take advantage of hemp’s myriad applications. The focus of such discussions primarily concern products designed for human consumption and use. However, as the market has expanded and matured, interest is extending to CBD products for pets and animals.

CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system, an internal regulatory system shared by both humans and animals. While medical claims concerning CBD are subject to varying degrees of scrutiny, it is known that CBD consumers cite pain management (40%), relaxation (34%), and stress relief (31%) among their primary motivations for use. Given CBD’s lower risk profile and relatively low barriers to adoption, it is easy to see why compassionate pet owners might want to pass some of these benefits on to their furry friends.

Europe’s pet market generates substantial income. According to FEDIAF, Europeans in 2018 spent €18.5 billion (USD $20.6 billion) in pet-related products and services. At the time, there were at least 132 European producers of pet food.

CBD represents a narrow slice of the market. In 2019, less than 3% of CBD consumers and less than 0.5% of nonconsumers reported having purchased CBD for a pet or animal. Among those CBD consumers purchasing for their pets, nearly 3 in 10 (29%) purchased CBD oil or topicals; CBD pet food or treats were about half as popular (14%), though on par with hemp-based pet food (14%) and twice as popular as livestock feed (7%).

While sales of CBD pet products are rather limited compared to the broader CBD market, there remains substantial upside potential. A recent report from the United States’ more mature market tracked CBD pet product sales skyrocketing year over year: In 2016, pet CBD sales in California, Colorado, Nevada and Washington totaled $58,581. Through increased retail availability, by 2019 those sales had increased by more than 126x, spiking to $7,383,908.

When considering the broader pet CBD market, however, estimates can vary considerably (given differing models and projected expectations for total demand). One claimed that in 2019 there was $321 million spent in the U.S. for pet CBD products, which would have represented an increase of more than a 900% increase over 2018 sales of $31 million.

As CBD becomes more widely available — and should mainstream pet-food producers begin to incorporate it into their product lines — its relative market share may grow in Europe. For now, however, they represent niche products in the broader CBD market, and it remains to be seen whether larger-scale adoption will be hampered by regulatory concerns and limited retail exposure.