Pet market dodges Covid malaise in dog-crazy Brazil

While the coronavirus crisis has weighed on most industries in Brazil, the country with more dogs than children in 2020 has paid a lot of attention and money to its pets.

When lockdown measures forced people to see less of their human friends, many turned their attention to their four-legged friends.

According to the Brazil Pet Institute, an industry association, sales of pet food and accessories in 2020 rose 13.5 percent year-over-year, after nearly doubling in the past five years.

Pet adoption has also grown dramatically – the benefit of an increase in abandonment as the pandemic has cost many people their incomes.

“I spent a lot of time at home and the loneliness began to weigh on me,” said Bruno Soares, a 36-year-old computer technician who was one of many to bring a dog – Brazil’s pet of choice. into his life during the global pandemic.

Soares has many anecdotes about Max, who now shares his 45 square meter apartment in the center of Sao Paulo, and tells with a mixture of anger and tenderness how the white mongrel ate two of his shoes.

Marina Insertra, who runs an animal shelter in the city, said adoptions tripled in March last year – around 15 animals are finding new families every day.

“The kennels ran out of dogs … a lot of people who lived alone wanted to buy a dog or a cat,” added animal dealer Luiz Renato, who says the demand for his grooming services has also skyrocketed.

“People who used to pay for grooming every 15 days are now paying for grooming every week because they don’t want the dog in the house to get dirty,” said Renato, whose income has doubled.

Sergio Zimerman, founder of online pet store Petz, said the company grew 46.6 percent in 2020 as of 2019.

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He said sales of toys and snacks were booming, as was sales of cleaning products, as more and more people who wanted to socially distance themselves from others started washing their dogs at home.

Much of the sector has been supported by labeling it as an “essential” service.

In addition to pharmacies and supermarkets, pet shops could continue to operate, even if many other companies had to close their doors during temporary closings since March last year.

Insertra told AFP that the surge in pet adoptions has flattened somewhat in the wake of the pandemic, although it was still higher than before.

Market watchers don’t expect the economic impact of the health crisis that has killed more than 375,000 people in Brazil to change the country’s obsession with pets.

According to the Brazil Pet Institute, the country of 212 million people had around 54.2 million dogs in 2018.

This was out of a total of 140 million domestic animals – cats, birds, fish, reptiles, and small mammals were also popular.

Brazil is the second largest market in the world for dog food after the US and the third for pet food in general.