As Americans' appetite for wellness grows, consumers look for new products for their pets, said BarkBox CEO Matt Meeker.
"It's a huge industry," Meeker said, referring to the nearly $70 billion pet products industry. Meeker is co-founder of BarkBox, a subscription service that provides dog owners, and even some pet pig owners, a monthly box of two toys, two treats and a chew toy.
"We've walked into so many meetings where people say, 'The pet industry, what a joke,'" Meeker said Friday on CNBC's "Power Lunch." "[But] it's huge."
In fact, the pet industry is expanding at a record pace as companies in other sectors jump into the market. Last year, packaged foods in the U.S. grew 1.2 percent, while retail pet foods grew more than three times as fast, according to the research firm Euromonitor. The larger pet products industry is also expanding. In 2013, Americans spent approximately $55.7 billion on pet products, according to the American Pet Products Association. That number jumped to $66 billion in 2016 and is estimated at nearly $70 billion in 2017, with $29 billion to $30 billion spent on pet food alone.
"Consumers are moving to more natural products in human food, and it absolutely is happening in the pet space, where people treat their pets like a family member," David Lenhardt, the former president and chief executive officer of PetSmart, said Friday on CNBC's "Closing Bell."
Case in point, when BarkBox was launched in 2012, most subscribers were women, urban residents or millennials, people who treated their dogs "like a child" or "as family members," Meeker said. But as the product line and reach expands, people in rural areas have begun subscribing. In 2017, BarkBox began selling toys and treats at Target.