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Cages and hutches
20th March 2013

by Sandra Pearce


A monthly snapshot and analysis of a different sector within the UK pet industry



The cages and hutches market comprises indoor and outdoor housing for all small animals, poultry and captive birds, as well as dog carriers and crates. According to market researchers AMA Research, the total market in 2011 was worth an estimated £63 million RSP, with growth forecast for 2012 and 2013.

Hutches and runs are estimated to be worth around the £24 million RSP mark. Sales in the hutches and runs category have distinct seasonality trends, with the bulk of sales occurring in spring and early summer. Last year’s dismal weather had a negative impact on sales, say manufacturers, sales of which were further hampered by the ongoing credit crunch and families tightening their purse strings.

Tim Gooders, commercial manager at Liberta, also believes that the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics had an effect by keeping people glued to the television rather than spending time in their gardens, so they were not inspired to acquire rabbits or guinea pigs.

Manufacturers also comment that the category faces stiff competition from cheap Chinese imports and online price wars, especially on sites such as eBay. However, there is good news in that high-profile campaigns on hutch sizes by groups such as rabbit charity RWAF are starting to have an impact on purchasing decisions. The Rabbit Shack has noticed demand for its larger-sized hutches is growing, and this year it will launch a new range of larger hutches meeting RWAF standards. Trixie also says demand is growing for larger hutches, with its 116cm model the most popular.

Although chickens are still growing in popularity, the number of online retailers wanting to earn a quick buck is battering the market. The Rabbit Shack notes, for example, that it has this financial year sold more rabbit hutches than chicken coops. Yet this has not stopped manufacturers from launching into the market, such as Trixie’s chicken coop.

Dog crates and cages should not be overlooked by retailers as they offer a number of practical and essential uses for dog owners, says Harry Scott, brand manager at Interpet. He said: “Considering wider consumer trends, the increasing number of people in the UK deciding to ‘holiday at home’ rather than go abroad, means that a dog crate is perfect to ensure travelling with dogs is safe and secure – a must-have for responsible pet ownership.”
 
The small animal and bird cages categories are showing signs of some growth. The Pet Food Manufacturers Association (PFMA) says there are around three million small animals in the UK, and around two million caged birds.

According to AMA Research, the total category is estimated to be worth £39 million RSP, with products for small animals around £20 million RSP, and bird cages valued at about £14 million RSP.