As pet owners prioritise the health and wellbeing of their pets, new opportunities abound in the pet food and treat market
The global pet food market was valued at $110.2 billion in 2020, and is projected to grow more than any other global food category in the next five years.
As pets become a greater priority in households, pet owners are increasingly concerned with providing quality diets to their pets.
Amongst pet food trends gaining momentum are natural preservation methods, digestive and immune health aids and plant-based ingredients.
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Even before 'pandemic puppies' caused a surge in pet ownership, the pet food market was strong. In the wake of COVID-19 it has only grown, with Euromonitor predicting the global pet food market will reach US$110.2b in 2021, up from an annual valuation of US$102.1b in 2020, and is expected to exceed $150b by 2026.
Although pet ownership is up, gains in pet spending have more to do with pet owners seeing their pets as people, which makes them more willing to spend more on food and treats. Pet owners are also placing greater importance on the quality and functionality of pet food, with many seeking out ingredients with proven benefits and others looking for novel taste experiences. Here we outline some of the ways we expect to see pet food grow across five categories that closely align with human food trends.
Maintaining quality with recognisable ingredients
A recent Kerry survey of U.S. dog and cat owners indicated that 90% of pet owners believe reading ingredient labels is important when making a food or treat purchase decision. Amongst these consumers, a quarter are willing to pay more for products that include recognisable ingredients. With ingredient labels beginning to look more like shopping lists, products such as Kerry EverWild™ are helping manufacturers maintain product freshness, quality and palatability over shelf life while using kitchen-friendly ingredients including dairy, celery and vinegar.
Supporting pet digestive health
Digestive health has also seen increased interest from pet owners, and there are several ingredients available to support pet digestive health. For example, probiotics are well known as a digestive health solution for pets, and BC30® is a highly stable spore-forming probiotic ingredient that can be formulated into pet food, treats and supplements. A growing body of scientific evidence suggests that pet microbiomes are more similar to the human microbiome than was once thought, which opens the door for brands to utilise human digestive health ingredients for pets as well.
Catering to a growing interest in supplements
COVID-19 reinvigorated the pet supplement category in 2020, with 116% more new pet supplement products introduced to the global pet market compared to 2019. This billion-dollar category is driven by pet owners seeking ways to meet their pets' physical and emotional wellbeing. Health claims for pets are similar to those used for humans, including immunity support, digestive health, joint health and brain health. With the growing appetite for a wide range of supplementary solutions in the pet health market, there is immense potential for manufacturers to tap in the future.
Bringing exotic ingredients and formats to pets
Many pet owners are seeking out new and unique ways to add variety to their pets' mealtimes. Just as consumer tastes change and new flavour profiles gain popularity in the mass consumer market, the pet food market is also ushering in new pet food flavour profiles. Innovative pet food trends that made a splash in 2020 and continue to perform well include gamey proteins such as venison, wild boar, rabbit and bison. We're also seeing a growing interest in products that include goatmilk as well as functional waters for pets. Product innovations like these serve curious pet owners looking to incorporate more unique and novel ingredients and protein sources into their pets' diets.