Five Pet Food Trends Driving Future Growth
Record-high inflation rates across the U.S. this summer caused consumer cutbacks on food purchases, entertainment, travel, and everything in between. However, the one place that seems to be “off limits” to budget cuts is how people feed their pets. When it comes to future pet food trends, experts are predicting continued increase for years to come.
Chewy and Petco, retailers of all things pets, reported year-over-year sales rises of 13% and 3.2%, respectively, for the most recent quarter. The retailers noted numerous factors for the recent rise in sales. The companies cited increased spending on food, including recent consumer shifts toward more premium food, as one of the as a major reasons for the increase.
Aside from premiumization, many of the same trends reported in previous years are holding strong. Petfood Industry has identified five major trends that are currently dominated the pet food industry. Anissa Wolf, Research Manager for Euromonitor International, discussed these five trends at Foro Mascotas in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, as reported in the Petfood Industry article.
Top Five Pet Food Trends
Premiumization—As noted, high-quality, nutritious ingredients are still a hot commodity in the pet food sector. Such offerings allow people to give their pets the same types of ingredients they would want in their own foods. According to Wolf, “Premiumization is the principal factor in the growth of pet food.” Euromonitor estimates that, Worldwide in 2017, premium pet food sales stood at $34.9 billion. By 2027 that figure could climb to $59.2 billion, an estimated 70% increase. Chewy and Petco recently told CNBC they have “not seen any trend away from premium food, despite inflation.”
Humanization—Possibly beginning as a uniquely Western attitude, its influence is spreading. In lifestyle survey data from Euromonitor, the Americas had the highest percentage of people perceiving pets as beloved family members, at nearly 80%. North America was slightly ahead of Latin America, while Europe and Asia-Pacific regions followed, with both in the mid-60 percentages. Just under 60% of respondents in the Middle East and Africa considered pets to be family. Globally, the perception of humanization of pets is increasing which will naturally lead to an increase in premium care products including food, toys, care, etc.
Buying habits—As with most every aspect of life on Earth, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed consumers’ purchasing habits; this trend is not going away. Digital purchases for dog and cat food have grown, reaching an all-time high in 2022, especially in those aged 44 or younger. However, Euromonitor’s research shows that in-store purchases are still the most popular pet shopping experiences across all ages.
Functional and natural ingredients—Euromonitor reviewed the top health-related claims made by pet food brands. High protein was the most common claim of Euromonitor’s health-related claims, with natural claims as the second-most frequent. Ingredients touting antioxidants, vitamins, and immune system health have also grown.
Sustainability—Lastly, as with their own food choices, pet parents are increasing their purchases of sustainably-produced items and packaging.
David Sprinkle, research director at Packaged Facts, recently presented how the pet industry is “rewiring itself in many ways to reflect a crossing of borders.” This refers to the multi-channel retail space, but also refers to the nature of many products currently on the market.
Pet Food Processing noted this “cross-border” trend in such products as dog food specifically designed to calm behavior. With ingredients like fish oil (EPA and DHA-enhanced) and glucosamine, as well as some with hemp or CDB-based ingredients, clearly the line between pets and their owners continues to blur.
It seems that, when it comes to pet food, the more things change, the more they stay the same. The concepts of premiumization and humanization have grown stronger—even over the long stretch of the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Natural and nutritional ingredients, along with concern for the planet’s ecosystem mirror the same concerns consumers have expressed in most of their buying behaviors. The pandemic also gave a large boost to e-commerce that shows no signs of slowing even with brick-and-mortar stores open and shoppers venturing out again. And, lastly, human ideas of health and wellness and what they want for their pets have “crossed borders.”