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Healthy foods feed pet industry


SAN DIEGO The annual Global Pet Expo opened in San Diego Feb. 14 with thousands of new products debuting to feed the growing pet industry. Show sponsor the American Pet Product Manufacturer’s Association estimates pet product sales jumped 5% in 2007 to $40.8 billion and are expected to increase again in 2008.

On the floor of the San Diego Convention Center, more than 750 exhibitors – along with dozens of dogs, cats and the occasional eagle and owl – are showcasing new products with pet accessories and healthy foods two of the hottest categories.

Cott Beverages is making its first foray into the pet business with its FortiFido water for dogs. The water comes in four flavors with a unique blend of vitamins and supplements for dogs with different needs.

“We’re making our big national launch right now in pet specialty stores, grocers and mass merchants,” said Cott director of innovation Charles Calise.

Sales of healthy foods have thrived since the tainted food scare last fall that forced suppliers to recall hundreds of products made in China.

“We saw our sales rocket after that incident,” said Norman Levitz of Wagatha’s, a Vermont company that makes organic biscuits for dogs.

Pet clothing is another growing category. Jakks Pacific Pets unveiled its new line of Doggie Disguises to dress pets for Halloween. And Gramercy Distributors showcased its new Cool Vest, a light vest with a waterproof lining that keeps dogs cool in hot weather.

The Global Pet Expo – the largest gathering of pet suppliers and retailers in the U.S. – will end Feb. 16. The show is moving from San Diego to Orlando in 2009.

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