It is no secret, the pet industry is booming and will continue to rise. At the same time the industry is changing rapidly and pet food brands need to keep up to fulfill more conscious consumer demands. They have every reason to be more mindful, as pets today are considered more and more as family members and pet owners want to purchase only the best for their beloved animal companions. We see how trends from the human industry are more rapidly transferring over to the pet industry and we expect that this trend will be prominent in the years to come.
Here are 5 trends that will definitely influence the pet industry this year and take on new and more meaningful shapes in the years ahead:
1. Pet food products with clean labels and full transparency are the winners
This trend is no longer a choice by pet food product brands, it is rather an expectation from their customers. Consumers’ opinions today have more of an impact on the way companies produce and operate than ever before. Brands not able to deliver on one of the latest trends, mindful choices, will find themselves in a difficult position, as the buying behavior of consumers will be influenced by a more holistic approach in 2018. Consumer want healthy food choices, which at the same time give them peace of mind in terms of environmental and ethical claims.
In support of the mindful choice movement, the clean label trend will continue this year and pet food products need to offer full transparency on their ingredient lists and ensure to deliver on required and key nutrients. Expecting full transparency, consumers are keen on knowing where their products come from. This means that ingredients offering 100% traceability will be the preferred choice of producers to meet consumer demands. A study with 2000 consumers conducted by Kerry Health and Nutrition Institute revealed that 99% of the participants are willing to pay more for fully transparent products.
2. Pet parents are increasingly seeking healthy foods with proactive ingredients for their pets
The motivation of many pet owners is: “What’s good for me is also good for my pet”. Pets have been keeping humans healthy and contributing to their wellness since the beginning of pet ownership. Studies have shown that pets have many positive influences on humans’ overall well-being, by promoting physical activity and helping to manage stress in difficult life situations. With this in mind, pet parents are increasingly concerned about preventive health care for their pets.
Read more: Is a dog part of your health plan?
Functional pet food ingredients that offer proven health benefits will most likely be a focal point of major pet food brands for the years to come. We foresee a rise in the number and variety of pet food choices highlighting the inclusion of nutraceutical ingredients such as probiotics, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins etc. Including ingredients that are of high quality or even those of human-grade level will be a competitive advantage in this category.
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3. Personalization: a trend on the rise for pets
Personalization is definitely not a new trend in the human space, but one that is increasingly gaining importance on all levels of product offerings. It is only natural that this trend will open new opportunities in the pet food market. When it comes to personalization, there are just no limits to anyone’s creativity. Now is still the chance to hop on to opportunities that might make your brand stand out in the crowd and you could be celebrated as a pioneer.
Especially in the pet food section, we see many opportunities. Pet parents seem to like the experience of preparing food for their pets, as this gives them the feeling of having more control over the ingredients they are feeding their pets. I think we are seeing a trend in mixing raw food with other ready available pet food sources. So perhaps palatable pet spices might become the new gourmet thing in the pet food industry in 2018.
4. The search for new protein sources will reveal new ingredient trends
Not only is the human population growing, we are also seeing an increase in pet ownerships. The reason for this differs from country to country, but this growth will have an implication on the demand for proteins and meats for pets globally. The majority of protein sources today are still meat-based, however pet food manufacturers are already looking into new exciting protein sources and ingredients. Although some forward-looking companies are considering ways to develop scientifically engineered ingredients and products, many consumers are not yet ready to trust such products.
As 70% of our earth is covered by water, it is only natural that we turn to the sea for new protein resources. By doing this in full compliance with the eco system of the oceans and ensuring a 100% sustainable fishing operation, companies can also meet many of the other new trend demands that we discussed earlier.
Read more: Krill as a new protein source
5. E-Commerce continues to gain popularity and is effecting other channels
We have all seen this coming. Brands that are still not on some kind of e-commerce channel, should be rethinking their strategy. According to Nielsen consumer research, the e-commerce dog food sales experienced a growth of 92.2 percent in 2017, while the cat food sales increased by 63.2 percent. The online space for pet food products is disrupting other channels and we expect further growth in the coming years.
Known as a sales channel that is increasingly targeting the millennial generation, e-commerce offers many benefits to pet owners, such as customized products and the convenience of home delivery. E-commerce is also a great platform to sell products with special health benefits and food for pets with specific needs. Consumers are likely to spend more time on educating themselves on products bought online, as they have more time to research and are often in a space where they feel comfortable. Therefore, the e-commerce space should be used as an educational platform, where brands can share more information and videos about their product benefits.