Top Pet Food Trends: Pet Health, Sustainability, Premium Quality

While prevailing globally pet food trends are not new, the COVID-19 pandemic has increased their importance and their continued influence for at least the next two years, according to Kate Vlietstra, associate director of Mintel Food and Drink. She delivered the opening session of Pet Food Forum Europe 2022which was held on May 23 in Nuremberg, Germany, in partnership with Interzoo 2022.

Specifically, Vlietstra encouraged the pet food professionals in attendance to take advantage of pet owners’ changing priorities when it comes to their pets’ health, make sustainability efforts tangible and transparent, and continue to capitalize on the fusion of humanization and premiumization.

Focus on animal health

In the United States, 30% of pet supply buyers said they are paying more attention to the health of their pets since the start of the pandemic, according to Mintel/Kantar data shared by Vlietstra, and 88% agree that It is important to take preventive measures to protect an animal. the health of the animal. This can include providing supplements: 28% of US pet owners do so, while 35% of UK owners believe supplements are the most effective way to provide functional benefits to pets. company.

Among the benefits pet food can provide include support for anxious pets — 30% of U.S. pet food and treat buyers are interested in products that can calm anxiety, Vlietstra reported — as well as functional drinks for animals and products promoting digestive well-being.

Five years and beyond, Vlietstra believes pet food brands must let science and data lead the way in helping pet owners make informed decisions about their pets’ health.

Environmental transparency: meat ingredients, insect proteins

Consumers, including pet owners, are demanding brands buy sustainable and environmentally transparent products, but pet food has some catching up to do, at least compared to the human food, Vlietstra said. Mintel data shows that at the end of 2021, 19% of global human food product launches carried an eco-friendly packaging claim, compared to just 14% for pet food . For recycling, they were 15% and 12% respectively; for housing or sustainable resources, 12% and 7%; and for environmentally friendly products, 10% and 8%. However, animal welfare claims in pet food reached 6% in 2021, while human welfare claims on human food products have stagnated at 4% since 2019.

Vlietstra targeted meat-based pet food ingredients as another area for improvement in terms of transparency. She cited a 2021 American National Rendering Association (NARA) proposing that the term “by-products” in pet food ingredients be replaced with “co-products”, which could increase consumer acceptance and make them understand that the use of all parts of an animal is more durable. Currently, for pet owners in the United States, there is a disconnect: Mintel data indicates that many consider 50% of a pet inedible; however, 51% of pet owners surveyed say organ meats and cartilage can be good sources of nutrients for pets.

Although the NARA study concludes that meat production will continue for the foreseeable future, this does not rule out alternative sources of protein for pet food. insect protein is definitely on the rise and gaining ground among consumers. Acknowledging that the ingredient accounts for less than 1% of global pet food product launches, Vlietstra also provided data showing that 36% of UK pet food buyers said they would be interested in the foods containing insect proteins, up from 21% in just three years. In South Korea, the pet food that ranks between third and fourth in terms of sales is Foody Worm, an insect-based brand.

Vlietstra commented that lab-grown meat “is on the cusp of becoming a reality for pet food (and human food).”

Premiumization of pet food exceeds that of human food

Premiumization has been a force in the pet food industry for some time now, and the pandemic has only accelerated it, according to Vlietstra. From 2016 to 2021, the average cost of pet food products launched worldwide (per 100 ml/g) increased by 32%, more than most human food categories, a she declared.

The fact that many pet owners are willing to pay more for pet food may be due, at least in part, to the fact that they are forgoing having children and instead focusing on their pets. In the United States, for example, 23% of non-parents aged 18 to 49 say they are very unlikely to have children; in China, 32% of pet owners consider their pets their children; and in the UK, 56% of pet owners said they would rather cut the money they spend on themselves than the money they spend on their pets.


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