The Pet Food Manufacturers Association (PFMA) revealed it has seen a “huge shift” in bird food sales in light of the ongoing pandemic.
PFMA members have seen bird food sales shift from stores to online in the last four weeks amid the nationwide lockdown, though warn that many retailers have been struggling to manage an increased demand in the product.
It warned that some online businesses have had to temporarily close their online shops as they were unable to cope with the level of business coming in.
It comes as a recent PFMA survey found that 41% of households who have outdoor space engage in feeding wild birds. The group also estimates that the total UK wild bird food market is now worth £235m, which represents a 6% increase against 2018.
The PFMA added that the current lockdown is likely to see more people engaging with nature in their gardens, growing plants and feeding and observing wild birds.
It said: “While the demand for feeding birds is there, and birds need the extra nutrition between now and harvest, the challenge is how to safely source the food.
“Luckily, many of the channels selling wild bird food are still functioning either because they are considered as ‘essential retail’ due to selling food or pet food or are online businesses that can run as normal.”
PFMA found that 38% of households bought bird food from supermarkets, 23% from pet shops, 21% from garden centres , followed by DIY stores, online and other platforms.
It added: “Thanks to the efforts of the UK pet food and pet care sector, pet shops remained open since the start of the lockdown period – another major outlet for sourcing wild bird food.
“Supermarkets and grocery stores stock a limited range of bird food while many online retailers stock and deliver bird food products.”
One PFMA member said: “The largest increase in orders has been from those who have a significant online presence.
“We are now in our fifth week of lockdown and even still, the volume of orders on our system has never been higher – even at times of snow during winter or good bird populations during Spring and Summer.”
Another member added: “Overall, we are seeing a shift towards online purchasing, with a substantial rise in pet shop sales. It has been brilliant to see communities come together and find innovative ways for operation until we can surpass this unprecedented time.”