Italy - Country Commercial Guide
Pet Products

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2021-10-29


Italy is home to more than 60 million pets, including cats, dogs, small mammals, birds, fish, and reptiles. In 2020, the Italian pet food market exceeded $2.52 billion and is continuing to grow, according to a report by Italy’s National Association for Pet Food and Pet Care Businesses (ASSALCO) and Italy’s premier pet product tradeshow, Zoomark. The pet food market grew in value by 4.2% over 2019 with a volume increase of 2% with 626,000 tons of food sold. The 2021 edition of the Zoomark trade show is being held in-person in Bologna on November 10-12.

Market data

The Italian market for pet food and pet care products continues to grow in value and volume, unlike many other sectors that suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic. Out of a population of 60 million people, three out of ten (38.8%) Italian families own at least one pet. The total pet population is 60.3 million animals, which includes 7 million dogs, 7.3 million cats, 29.9 million fish, and 12.9 million birds, with the remainder including other small mammals such as rabbits, ferrets, and rodents (hamsters, guinea pigs and degus). There are also 1.4 million reptiles (turtles, snakes, and lizards). The pet food market continues to perform well since Italians increasingly consider theirs pets as part of the family.  In 2020, Italians spent $1.3billion on cat food (53.2% of the market), $1.2 billion on dog food (46.8% of the market), as well as $239,305 million on snacks and treats, which accounts for a 5.4% increase from the previous year. In 2020, the sale of food for rodents and ornamental birds grew significantly, accounting respectively for 42.1% and 30% of the market value. 

In 2020 pet care products and accessories (hygiene products, leashes, kennels, bowls, cages, birdcages, aquariums, turtle bowls and various utensils) had value of $85 million in the large-scale retail channel and an increase in value of 2.3 to 6.7% by volume compared to 2019. The hygiene product segment was valued at approximately $37 million in 2020, which represented an increase of 14.7% compared to the previous year. The pet toys segment (indoor and outdoor toys) had a total revenue of close to $6.7 million (+1.7% compared to 2019). The cat litter market showed a significant increase, mainly in the large distribution channel, with a growth of +3.1%.

Leading Sub-Sectors

Leading factors for growth in this sub-sector have included the increased importance of pets in Italian families and better marketing via large-scale outlets and specialized stores. Demand for pet healthcare products, branded clothing, beauty products, and natural and premium products is growing. Statistics indicate that Italian pet owners are more likely to treat their pets with greater care, for example, by choosing foods tailored to the pet’s specific nutritional requirements, resulting in higher demand for premium and super premium pet food.

Market Trends

Some relevant trends in 2020 included a decrease in the sale of travel-related pet products (like carriers) and an increase in snack foods. There was also an increase in the consumption of pet detergents with sanitizing properties. In the hygiene care sector, the bestselling products are absorbent mats, animal waste collecting tools, cleaning and beauty, leashes and muzzles, snacks & treats; toys, litters, antiparasitic medications, clothing, beds, bowls, and other accessories. These sectors and products in addition to pet food are the best prospects for U.S. companies. 

Exporting Pet Food and Feed to Italy and the EU

Pet food is highly regulated in the European Union to maintain the highest standards of hygiene, safety, and quality. In the EU, pet food is subject to feed marketing and veterinary legislation. The EU’s feed marketing legislation covers food for pets as well as feed for food-producing animals. Pet foods that contain animal origin ingredients must be sourced from approved establishments and have a veterinary certificate.

All U.S. exports into the EU must comply with EU requirements on labeling, hygiene, animal health, certification, and the use of additives. The European Parliament and Council Regulation 767/2009 set rules for the labeling and marketing of feed and pet food, covering feed materials, compound feed, and medicated or dietetic feed for both food and non-food producing animals.  Pet food not complying with Regulation 767/2009 and with the provisions on feed additives specified in Regulation 1831/2003 cannot enter the EU market. Conditions for mixing veterinary medicine into feed are in Directive 90/167/EEC.  

Data Source:

U.S. Department of Agriculture FAS (Foreign Agricultural Service), U.S. Embassy Rome.

Istat Coeweb

ITA International Trade Administration


Trade Shows

Zoomark International, Bologna Fiere, IT  

The Zoomark trade show is the largest pet product show in Italy and the second most important in Europe. Zoomark is a key point of entry for U.S. exporters to Europe’s $27 billion pet products market and alternates yearly with the largest show, Interzoo in Nuremberg, Germany.,

The 2021 event was held in a new format that will combine a physical event with a digital platform. Starting with the 2021 edition, IMEX Management, Inc International ( will manage the U.S. Pavilion at Zoomark.

U.S. Pavilion organizer at Zoomark:

IMEX Management, Inc

Eric Halsten | Vice President, Sales & Marketing


main +1.704.365.0041 x30

cell +1.704.248.2980



Major U.S. Trade Associations:

American Pet Products Association (APPA) 

World Pet Association (WPA) 

Pet Food Institute

Major Italian Associations:

Scivac – The Italian Veterinary Association  

Assalco – The Italian Association of Pet Food and Pet Care Industry


U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA) office at the U.S. Embassy in Rome, Italy:

Ornella Bettina, Agricultural Specialist;

U.S. Commercial Service Contact:

Valentina Massari, Commercial Assistant

U.S. Commercial Service, U.S. Consulate Milan

Tel: +39 026268 8507