Clumping cat litter as private label product

Eco-friendly clumping cat litter for all types of cats
Picture: © 5second / Fotolia.com

COSYCAT® is an eco-friendly clumping cat litter based on untreated wood fibres. It is unscented and does not contain any additives. By offering COSYCAT® as a private label product, retailers can set themselves apart from the competition. You receive an eco-friendly cat litter product that is 100% natural and has many advantages for cats, humans and the environment.

Environmentally-friendly clumping litter

Our eco-friendly cat litter is good for the environment because we manufacture it exclusively from renewable resources. We grind the untreated wood into fine wood fibres, which are then granulated. Afterwards we sieve the granulate and remove the dust. As a result, the soft and virtually dust-free particles have a water absorption capacity of over 700%. Since the timber used originates from sustainable forestry, our cat litter bears the PEFC label. In addition, the manufacturing process is certified under the German Quality Scheme (QS).

The cat litter can be disposed of in the organic waste bin or with household refuse. Please observe the local regulations for disposal. In industrial composting facilities, the cat litter produces hygienically safe compost; when burnt in incineration plants, the wood fibres produce thermal heat.

Various types of packaging

We supply our ecological clumping litter as a private label product in different packaging: PE sack, paper bag or big bag. Cat litter supplied in PE sacks can be stored outside for longer periods without becoming damp. Want to pack the cat litter yourself? In that case we supply our clumping cat litter in big bags.

For further information on our cat litter as a private label product, please see our COSYCAT® product page.

Arguments in favour of humans and animals


Picture: © voren1 / Fotolia.com

COSYCAT® is a fast clumping cat litter that absorbs liquids very well. When handling the clumping litter, almost no dust is stirred up, which is good for the respiratory tract of humans and animals. Our eco-friendly cat litter has a pleasant smell of wood and does not need any fragrance. It has the following qualities:

  • Virtually dust-free
  • Fast odour-binding
  • Highly absorbent
  • Robust clumps
  • Antibacterial effect
  • Economical in use
  • Low weight

Consumer-friendly clumping cat litter

The eco-friendly clumping litter is easy and economical to use. Since the fibres weigh very little, no effort is needed to fill the cat toilet with litter. The grains of the top layer absorb the cat’s urine and thus the odour in the minimum of time, preventing any from trickling down. Together with the urine, the natural plant fibres form stable clumps that can be removed with a litter scoop. Walnut-sized portions can be flushed down the toilet.

COSYCAT® is extremely economical because only a few fibres are required to form a clump. Following the removal of the clumps, plenty of clean litter remains. Fibres that have not come into contact with the urine can still be used because they remain fresh and odour-free. The clumping litter can be used for up to several weeks. When the layer gradually thins out, it can just be topped up with new cat litter. The cat toilet should be emptied completely every one to four weeks and filled with fresh litter.

Cat litter – commodity or luxury?

The performance of cat litter saleshas varied greatly around the world in 2002: while growth in the US remained strong since 1998, sales slowed in Japan; meanwhile in Germany – the world’s third largest market – constant value sales contracted by 1% in 2002, and almost 7% since 1998.

Demand centres around mature markets

Cat litter is a well-established productin the mature markets of Western Europe, North America and Japan. While a large cat population is the ultimate prerequisite for high value sales of cat litter, other factors also impact demand. In countries with high disposable incomes, and where pet food is a well-established concept, demand for cat litter is comparatively strong.

Urbanisation and the concomitant rise in the number of house-cats also drive demand for cat litter in many countries. The top five in value terms – US, Japan, Germany, UK and France – exhibit these characteristics to varying degrees.

The US has by far the largest cat population, which compensates for the fact that the country lags somewhat in terms of urbanisation. Germany on the other hand has a smaller number of cats, but is, next to the UK, a heavily urbanised country (about 89% of households in the UK and Germany live in urban areas). All five markets are characterised by high levels of personal disposable income, ranking among the top twenty countries worldwide.

Product innovation boosts growth in the US

The US which accounts for about 45% of world cat litter sales, witnessed the introduction of superior-quality products such as clumping and silica gel (crystal) litters, which ensured that cat litter continued to achieve strong growth. Premium-priced silica litters, such as Nestlé Purina’s Tidy Cats Crystals, offer better absorption and odour control than conventional cat litter.

Clumping litter, the most common format in the US, is easily scoopable and more convenient to use than traditional products. Furthermore it requires more frequent purchasing, contributing to overall sales growth. Clorox recently introduced Scoop Away Plus Crystals, a product which combines clumping and crystal litters into one product. Innovative product development also kept private labels at bay: The share held by private label products was 16% in 2001, considerably lower than the 28% share held by private label in Western Europe.

To US consumers, product functionality has been and continues to be more appealing than low prices. Consequently, added-value products ensured consistently strong year-on-year growth rates in the US: between 1998 and 2002, cat litter sales grew by over 24%, which translated into an actual increase of nearly US$240 million.

A commodity in Western Europe

In Western Europe cat litter performed less positively. It is relatively well established in the major markets, which made the product more appealing to retailers, and consequentlyin several Western European markets, manufacturers of branded cat litter products face fierce competition from private label, which undermine value growth through low prices.

In Germany, private label accounted for nearly 30% of value sales in 2001, an increase of almost one percentage point on the previous year. Similarly, private label cat litter held a share of over 30% in the UK, an almost three percentage point gain on 2000. In these markets, cat litter has reached commodity status, and product innovation such as scented litters have so far failed to significantly boost value growth. As a result, cat litter value sales in constant 2002 prices rose only marginally in the UK, while they declined by nearly 7% in Germany over the 1998-2002 period.

Falling prices undermine growth in Japan

Price pressure is also the main factor behind sales declines in Japan. While volume sales increased because of greater usage levels of cat litter, price competition between manufacturers and retailers led to a fall in unit prices in the country.

A decline in the cat population since 2001 has undoubtedly also had a negative impact on value sales of cat litter. Among the major markets for cat litter, the outlook for Japan is gloomy, with compound annual growthof –0.4% expected until 2007.

A luxury in emerging markets

While cat litter faces commoditisation and price pressure in developed markets, manufacturers must overcome a different challenge in order to boost growth in emerging markets: its luxury status.

Cat owners in emerging markets such as Russia continue to use non-expensive alternative products such as newspaper or sand, and in rural areas cat litter is not used at all. Various factors should however ensure that cat litter will be more widely used in coming years, such as rising disposable incomes and increased urbanisation.

China for instance has relatively strong potential: urbanisation, rising disposable incomes, and not to forget a vast cat population –the second largest globally – are all factors which facilitate acceptance and thus sales growth of this ultimately non-essential product. Cat litter value sales have in fact increased by nearly 60% since 1998, and have reached a level that is now comparable to sales in more developed pet products markets such as Sweden or Spain.

Two-fold challenge to manufacturers

Manufacturers thus face different challenges depending on the degree of national development: while it is necessary to overcome the commodity status of cat litter and competition from private label in mature Western European markets, cat owners in emerging pet products markets must also be convinced of the benefits of using such a product.

In Western Europe, a focus on superior quality products such as has happened in the US should enable manufacturers to stave off the private label threat and to boost value growth. In emerging markets however, the focus will need to be on offering low-priced products and on promoting the advantages cat litter has over ‘home-made’ alternatives.

Consider Your Options

From clumping to nonclumping and natural to clay, retailers need to consider shoppers’ varying needs when determining which products to include in their cat litter set.

Cat litter is a $2.8 billion dollar industry in the U.S., according to market research firm Packaged Facts. It follows that cat litter is an essential component of cat ownership and an important item for pet specialty retailers to keep in stock.

Today’s consumer has a wide range of options in cat litter, as the market continues to expand. Most important to cat owners is the elimination of odor, to appease both themselves and their pets.

In addition to odor control, important product attributes include low dust, low tracking and hard clumping, said Gina Zaro, marketing director for Dr. Elsey’s Cat Products in Englewood, Colo.

“Cats do not like scent in their litter,” Zaro said, adding that scent and texture can also impact cats’ litterbox usage.

Cat litter manufacturers are listening to consumers and conforming to pet owner demand, said Rebecca Muñoz, head of public relations at Phydeaux, which has stores in North Carolina.

“While the desire for a litter that reduces odor and tracking has been constant, we have seen increasing interest in litters that are also natural, eco-friendly, low dust and lightweight, and that clump well,” she said.

Leah Craft, CRM specialist/marketing coordinator with Chicago-based Oil-Dri Corp. of America, manufacturer of Cat’s Pride, agreed that lightweight litters have been a popular innovation.

“In addition, lightweight litters provide an environmental benefit as they lower the carbon paw print by allowing more units to be loaded on a truck than heavier litters, thus reducing the number of trucks on the road,” she said.

At The Natural Pet Enrichment Center in North Royalton, Ohio, owner Christine McCoy confirmed that customers are looking for a simple, effective litter that is good for the environment.

“We see the trends focusing on the consumers’ ability to clean the box quickly and effectively, with no odor and at a reasonable cost,” she said.

She also said that there is a strong push to make litter packages lighter weight with less perfumes and low to no dust.

Toni Shelaske, owner of Healthy Pet Products, which has stores in the Pittsburgh area, has noticed that consumers are demanding trackless, odorless and attract litter, adding that the market is trending toward more natural, lighter litter and fewer clay litters.

However, Ed Owens, vice president of engineering and new product development at American Wood Fibers in Columbia, Md., said that clay cat litter is still the market leader.

Rick Rockhill, executive vice president of Lucy Pet Products in Westlake Village, Calif., agreed that clay litters are performance leaders.

“Despite trends in alternative litter segments, sodium bentonite clumping clay performs the best to manage cat waste and also has the best acceptance rate with cats,” Rockhill said.

Materials & Ingredients

Evolving Cat Litter Formulas

Cat litter has evolved over the decades, with many formulations introduced in recent years.

“From the initial use of sand as cat litter more than 50 years ago, you can now find all types of cat litter made from clay, crystal, grains, corn and paper that is either scented or unscented, and scoopable or unscoopable,” said Leah Craft, CRM specialist/marketing coordinator with Chicago-based Oil-Dri Corp. of America, maker of Cat’s Pride. “The future of cat litter innovation is endless, with consumer needs driving our continued evolution of what can be offered in the litterbox.”

Lucy Pet Products in Westlake Village, Calif., partnered with The Dow Co. to utilize its patent-pending ingredient that prevents ammonia from forming in the litterbox; the result was the company’s Cats Incredible Litter.

“This ammonia-prevention technology is a game changer because it can help keep cats healthier by keeping them from being exposed to ammonia in the litterbox,” said Rick Rockhill, executive vice president of Lucy Pet Products.

Clumping cat litters have also been key, said Rebecca Muñoz, head of public relations at Phydeaux, which has stores in North Carolina.

“In many cases, this helps cut down on odors and messes as well,” Muñoz said. “Applying these technologies to a variety of litter types, it seems, is the more significant innovation rather than any particular material or ingredient.”

New Products

Cat- and People-Friendly Formulations

Phydeaux, which has stores in North Carolina, has begun carrying Boxiecat, World’s Best Cat Litter Zero Mess and sWheat Scoop Premium this year because they are all using improved clumping technologies, said Rebecca Muñoz, head of public relations.

Toni Shelaske, owner of Healthy Pet Products, which has stores in the Pittsburgh area, started carrying Dr. Elsey’s Cat Attract, which is infused with an herbal attractant and can be added to any cat litter.

“Many consumers are reluctant to change litters but still need something to attract their cats back to the litterbox,” Shelaske said. “This product solves that problem perfectly.”

American Wood Fibers in Columbia, Md., is introducing Nature Scents, a litter developed for the cat’s sensitive nose that will be low odor and uses ammonia-neutralizing woods with a blend of a very slight fragrance.

“The scents are very mild, but a cat’s nose is very sensitive, and we wanted to avoid the strong chemical perfumes that most natural or clay litters use,” said Ed Owens, vice president of engineering and new product development. “We compact the wood to reduce tracking, and then we crumble it to be softer and to absorb quicker. It is nonclumping, so the box is easy to clean.”

To meet consumer demand for lightweight products, Oil-Dri Corp. of America is launching Cat’s Pride Lightweight with Baking Soda in both scented and fragrance-free formulas, said Leah Craft, CRM specialist/marketing coordinator for the Chicago-based company.

With a new packaging format of its Cats Incredible Litter, Lucy Pet Products in Westlake Village, Calif., is also accommodating consumers who don’t want to lift extremely heavy packages.

“We recently added a traditional jug package to our lineup,” said Rick Rockhill, executive vice president. “These 20-pound jugs offer great value to the consumer and are also easy for retailers to merchandise in line.”

With the goal of keeping cats in their homes for as long as possible and of reuniting lost cats with their owners, Dr. Elsey’s Cat Products is launching the Orange Cat Collar Campaign.

“We want wayward indoor cats to get home safely, which is why we’re putting an orange breakaway collar in every 40-pound bag of Dr. Elsey’s Ultra cat litter, while supplies last,” said Gina Zaro, marketing director of the Englewood, Colo.-based company. “If you see a cat sporting an orange collar, that is a lost feline trying to get home.”

Merchandising

Positioning Litter

Because of its bulky nature and weight, cat litter can be difficult to merchandise.

Rebecca Muñoz, head of public relations at Phydeaux, which has stores in North Carolina, said that manufacturers are trying to help by creating more interesting packaging and display aids.

“We try to highlight the eye-catching structural and printed features, along with shelf talkers and any coupons or deals, of varied packaging within the litter section by displaying them cleanly and clearly so each brand can shine,” Muñoz said.

At Healthy Pet Products, which has stores in the Pittsburgh area, owner Toni Shelaske places large bags on bottom shelves but smaller bags at eye level along with scoopers and litterboxes.

“This is a needed product that customers will find no matter where it is,” Shelaske said.

Still, bright colors and images on product packaging can attract consumers’ attention and boost sales.

“At Dr. Elsey’s, we use color associations and lifestyle-oriented cat imagery to make our product approachable and convey their unique value propositions,” said Gina Zaro, marketing director for the Englewood, Colo.-based company.

Rick Rockhill, executive vice president of Lucy Pet Products in Westlake Village, Calif., said that cat litter is often the forgotten purchase, as many people tend to pick this item up at the grocery store. He recommends merchandising cat litter in line with cat food to help capture litter purchases in pet supply stores.

At The Natural Pet Enrichment Center in North Royalton, Ohio, litter is displayed on the front wall of the store close to the door.

“We ask our customers what litter they are using and offer small free bags if they are unsure,” said owner Christine McCoy. “We carry out litter for all of our customers to their car.”

Employees will also open a large bag and transfer litter into a smaller container to help reduce the weight customers will have to lift, she added.