Five trends in the pet food market manufacturers should know about
By Manuel Schaffrinna 27/05/2019
Humanisation – little four-pawed gourmets
Long gone are the days the majority of households kept a dog merely for the purpose of protecting their house. Now “pet parents” attach strong emphatic value to their little four-pawed friend and treat it as part of their family. This development is furthered by the structural changes in today’s society, with many families without children and more older people living on their own - many turn to their cat or dog for companionship. Of course this companion deserves only the best - “What is good for me is good for my pet”. Pet owners want to make sure that not only all of their pet’s nutritional needs are met but also that their furry friends enjoy a nice meal, so why not a beef casserole with gravy (in the pet variant) for dinner? The market for premium pet food has been growing for many years but it will continue to do so – so far it has mostly catered to dogs but the demand for premium cat food is on the rise.
Prey – back to the roots
Another trend contrary to the trend of human-food-inspired meals is going back to the pet’s ancestral roots to look for the right nutrition. Most dogs and house cats do not go on a hunting mission anymore but that does not mean that they should not enjoy the prey of a successful hunt. There’s an increasing demand for raw pet food products with pet owners perceiving it as a more natural and species-appropriate diet that fits their pet’s biology best.
At the same time the demand for meats like possum or rabbit is also on the rise. It appeals to customers as “natural prey” where they can visualise their pet actually chasing it while also helping to protect New Zealand’s fauna - by constituting a sustainable pest control.
Functional food – more than just feed
Today’s pet owners are very aware of their pet’s needs and they are looking for ways to support their furry friends’ overall health and agility in the best possible way. For preventive healthcare or to assist in managing existing health conditions, functional pet food comes into play. Functional food is ordinary pet food that includes nutraceutical (portmanteau of nutritional and pharmaceutical) ingredients to give it a specific medical or physiological benefit, other than a purely nutritional effect. As with human food, highlighting ingredients like vitamins, probiotics or omega-3 fatty acids, helps proactive customers make the best choice for their pet.
Personalisation / e-commerce – make it your own
As with its owner, every pet is different: taste preferences, specific dietary restrictions like intolerances and caloric needs based on lifestyle differ. Furthermore, pet parents like the experience of preparing food for their pets which gives them the feeling of having more control over the ingredients they are offering to their pet. Home-cooked pet food, however, often lacks essential nutrients (also see our blog post on this topic). Personalisation solutions make it possible for pet parents to have an individual meal for their furry friend created by answering questions about their cat or dog, thus catering to the specific needs of their pet while still ensuring a balanced diet. At the same time the customer also gets actively involved by e.g. picking one of the suggested sources of protein. In the US, machine-based brick-and-mortar solutions exist, but as they often lack the necessary scale, e-commerce truly enables the success of personalisation in pet food.
Even when not customising their pet’s food, many customers go online to either shop for their pets or inform themselves. Well done internet presences help build brand loyalty and are a way for manufacturers that do not sell direct-to-consumer to also interact with the consumers to better convey their brand’s message.
Transparency is key – no buts!
Pet owners want to know what they are feeding their furry favourites, therefore they are seeking clear labels and full transparency on the ingredients list. Their pet’s well being is their top priority so they do check the labels and might abstain from purchasing when they feel unclear about the ingredients. Furthermore, paying tribute to raised awareness, fueled by functional food, customers also expect to be informed about nutritional specifics like vitamin contents.
For over 30 years, we at Eurofins Scientific have been globally assisting manufacturers in testing their products not only for the safety of their products but also for all relevant nutritional information. We are testing for life and offer the whole range of certified tests. The pet food market offers many interesting opportunities. Let us get in touch and discuss your specific testing needs.
Eurofins Food Analytics NZ Ltd
0800 3876 3467