Marketing cat litter doesn’t seem the most glamorous job on earth, but then nobody said life would be easy except for the cats, perhaps. Keith Turney reports.
FEW PRODUCTS can boast, if indeed they want to, that they have remained relatively unchanged since Roman times. For while the use of Fullers Earth may have changed Roman cats existed without the benefits of the modern day cat litter the product can trace its history back to that time.
Now, Fullers Earth from manufacturer Laporte Absorbents, makes up a large part of the 43m[pounds] cat litter market and has recently been joined by lightweight clays and wood chip competitors.
Individual share of the market has remained relatively constant in recent years, with Fullers Earth showing a slight decline from 59% to 54%, lightweight clay going from 40% to 43%, and wood based increasing from 1% to 3% leading up to 1990, according to the last report published by market assesser, the BLA group. The sales market was reported as steady too, with 58% going to multiple grocers, 29% to pet shops and 7% and 6% going to independents and others respectively, figures reported as influenced by high proportions of cheaper own brands.
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The market forecast at 1990 looked good, with a sales rise in the previous year of 10.3%, and an estimated 35% of the 4.6 million cat owning households buying their litter regularly.
The optimism of the time fueled considerable investment, with Laport building a 17.5m[pounds] clay processing plant which is about to come on stream. Then a new product, Bio Catolet, entered the market. This was developed by a German company on the inspired idea of using recycled newsprint as a base for the litter. The process is a closely-guarded secret, as is the question of which newspapers are best for the purpose!