Natural Goodness - Pet Food’s New Wave
Increasingly demanded by a fresh generation of pet parents always concerned about the origin of the food they give to their furry friends, the trend toward natural diets continues to shape pet food market evolution. And the trend is going always further to meet pet parents' evolving expectations. What we now call 'Natural Goodness' stands for conscious indulgence and reflects the demand for healthier, higher quality, and better tasting pet food.
A step deeper in wild nature
Pet owners look for a higher level of naturalness when shopping for their pets. Besides clean labels, pet owners now expect more transparency regarding the provenance, processing method and environmental impact of the ingredients in the food. Moreover, natural-minded pet parents also see nature as an abundant source of new ingredients and flavors to be used creatively in pet food products.
Pet food manufacturers are thus continuously adapting their formulas and processes to develop products with attributes and claims that respond to the allure nature holds for pet owners. 'Better Sourced,' 'Pure and Pristine' and 'Creative Nature' are the new concepts riding the wave of the Natural Goodness trend that has emerged on the sea of pet food shelves. Ready to take a dip?
The rising consciousness and interest of pet parents in where, how and by whom a product has been produced has changed how they buy pet food. Where do ingredients come from? How are they sourced? These are frequent questions nowadays. For pet parents, buying products 'from nature' is not sufficient anymore. They are now looking for 'ethical' goods that are locally sourced and produced with respect to animal welfare. Pet food manufacturers are increasingly asserting their products' origins via the use of 'made in' stamps, as well as messages such as 'farm-to-bag' or 'family owned' clearly highlighted on their packaging. This active promotion of product traceability aims to reassure owners on pet food provenance.
Moreover, due to growing ecological awareness, pet parents' demand for sustainability is rising and goes beyond the choice of sustainable raw materials. They expect manufacturers to limit waste and produce more… with less! Pet food brands thus optimize their products' environmental impact by using co-products, alternative non-meat ingredients, and eco-friendly packaging. They also favor 'greener' processing with reduced water usage and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. For the brands, obtaining official and recognized certifications such as 'organic' is the ultimate testament to their green credentials.
'Better Sourced' product examples:
- Castor & Pollux Natural Petworks: use of a 'cooked with love in a USA Kitchen' stamp and 'responsibly sourced ingredients' below the ingredient details.
- Pooch & Mutt: Sustainability messages: FSC packaging, 100% recyclable, lower carbon footprint, product origin 'Fresh & Family Farmed' – 'Created by a Great British company'.
- Purina Beneful Simple Goodness: farm-raised beef, 'Proudly produced in our own US facilities'
Pure and Pristine
The perception of what natural means in food has become more elaborate, with owners increasingly expecting products containing a lower number of ingredients they can see and recognize. To meet this demand, pet food manufacturers continue to develop 'clean-label' products with rationalized lists of ingredients promoted on packaging using claims such as 'no additives,' 'no preservatives' or 'limited ingredients recipe.'
Furthermore, thanks to new processing methods, they also develop products with visible pieces of raw materials, including dehydrated fruits and vegetables. Besides the positive impact on pet parents of these visible 'parts of nature,' the gentleness of freeze dried, air dried, pressed, oven baked or any other slow cooked methods employed to produce them is also used by the brands to assert the preservation of nutrient quality and flavor.
Finally, to satisfy the more exacting pet owners dreaming to go 'back to the roots', brands develop a variety of what they called raw foods and ancestral or wild diets. Rich in meat, free from grain or made only with natural raw and raw-inspired ingredients, they aim to satisfy the wild nature of dogs and cats.
'Pure and Pristine' product examples:
- Rachael Ray Nutrish Dish: 'Real meat with veggies and fruits you can see' – no lists and stamps
- Italcol Chunky Men Natural: B.A.R.F (Biologically Appropriate Raw Food) stamp – 'Crudo es mejor – Mas natural' 'Raw food is better and more natural'
- Rachael Ray Nutrish Just 6: 'limited ingredients' recipe, no list
For natural-minded pet parents, nature reveals plenty of new and interesting ingredients and flavors. They want to explore nature's facets and potential by trying out veggies and fruits instead of 'just meat' for their four-legged friends. To offer the best of nature and fuel variety in the feeding bowl, pet food manufacturers seek to enrich their formula with new meat-free ingredients. A full list of fruits and veggies including banana, strawberries, apples, pumpkin and broccoli now complement meat-based recipes.
But owners' choice of fruit- or plant-based diets is not motivated only by an interest in bringing variety to their pets. Pet owners also assume that what is good for them is also good for their animals. They do not hesitate to apply their own beliefs and lifestyle to their animals. For instance, more 'veggivores'' appear among pet owners, and a growing number of them advocate vegan diets for their pets for environmental, ethical, and health reasons. Pet food manufacturers thus extend their vegan pet food offerings, developing products that include various plant-based protein sources such as soybean, potatoes, lentils and peas.
'Creative Nature' products examples:
- Forthglade: formula including green beans and apricots
- Benny Bullys Plus: 'Beef liver & Real Pumpkin'
- Wainwrights Simply Made: «Flavored with broccoli & green lipped mussels »
By: Chloé Champion Communication & Marketing Director - Diana Pet Food