Products for small animals have gained more shelf space as multiples broaden their petcare ranges. And, according to Supreme Petfoods, the unlikely star of this sector is the rat. The company says the increasing popularity of rats and gerbils as pets is challenging that old favourite the hamster. National accounts manager Nick Greenwood says: "We reacted early to the rehabilitation of the rat with the launch in 1996 of Reggie Rat, the UK's first proprietary rat food. It holds an estimated 40% sector share, and will soon be more widely available in grocery." Armitage too has responded to the demand for small pets with brightly coloured, all-purpose homes under the Rotastak brand. Senior product manager Susan Evans says it's important for the pet industry to adapt to lifestyle changes. "Hamster sales among 11 to13-year-olds are less popular. Children are persuading parents to buy them mobile phones instead," she says. "However, young, single professionals seeking companionship from low maintenance pets are increasing." Nestlé Purina hopes to rejuvenate the wet dogfood sector with what it claims is the only dogfood in cartons. Winalot Simply Fresh consists of four varieties of chunks in jelly in Tetra Pak's new Tetra Recart. This takes up to 30% less space on shelves and is lighter to carry, appealing to retailers and consumers. Demand for chubs, sausage shaped meat rolls, has encouraged Pets Choice to introduce a six-pack of Webbox and a four-pack of Best Friend. The company is developing Webbox Liver Sizzlers, meaty snacks made from fresh liver. {{FOCUS SPECIALS }}