Customers are trading up to more premium products across both cat and dog food. All 2006 NPD has been focused on this end of the market and has included Cesar Pouch, Pedigree Select Cuts and Whiskas Oh So Pouch. Cat owners continue to trade out of cans and into pouches for convenience.

It has been quite a good year for innovation and 2007 looks like offering more of the same.

The Whiskas Oh So Pouch has had most impact in terms of incremental sales. Consumers already knew and trusted the brand and value was added with real meat and fish pieces.

Whiskas, Sheba and Gourmet also performed well in the cat sector, while Butcher's, Pal, Pedigree, Winalot, Bakers and Wagg have done well in dog food.

We have a strong programme of both short-term and long-term price promotions that have contributed to our growth.

The stand out promotion was the Whiskas Pouch 12x100g for £2, while the disappointment was IAMS off-shelf features.

In the future, the drive towards more premium products is likely to continue. The pet population is fairly static, with the dog population declining slightly, and the number of cats growing, so volumes are fairly steady. Value can only grow if customers trade up to the more premium end.

I would like to see manufacturers supplying every case of product we order and helping to drive this through to on-shelf availability. Too many customers are still leaving our stores without being able to buy what they want.

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