A tighter pet-owner relationship could help drive sales of premium pet products or at least insulate the market to a degree from the impact of a post-pandemic recession.

A stronger pet bond

The idea that pets are cherished members of the family was strong among many owners prior to the coronavirus outbreak. The subsequent lockdown and social distancing measures further solidified the pet and owner relationship, which will carry on well past the end of the pandemic.

Potential for premium treats

One beneficiary of this trend is treats. As important as product credentials and attributes are to the treats market, the real strength of these products lies in their potential to facilitate deeper pet-owner relationships.

In the dog treats market, the increasing focus on quality ingredients and short ingredient lists reflects the continued premiumisation of the pet food market as a whole. In the US, Venison Recipe Grain Free dog treats are made with human-grade venison from New Zealand. Pure Chicken Breast Whole Food dog treats emphasise sourcing and traceability.

The premium end of the cat treats market shares a similar ingredient focus, even while the emphasis is on craveability, taste and texture. In the US, Original Cat Treats are sustainable, made with free-run poultry from Kentucky and wild-caught monkfish from New England waters.

Promoting pets' health

Pet foods targeting specific age groups and lifestyles also represent growth opportunities in the premium pet food segment. In Thailand, 35% of affluent pet owners are interested in pet food with special formulations targeting ages and lifestyles.

The affluent consumer is also more aware of their pet's health needs: 42% regularly bring their pet for a health check-up. This causes them to be more aware and informed about their pet's specific health demands.

In Thailand, LuvCare contains omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids to promote healthy skin and a shiny coat. It also contains premium quality protein to build strong muscle and highly digestible ingredients to promote optimal digestion.

Premium add-ons

While pet owners prefer dry food formats due to their convenience, the increased humanisation of animals offers manufacturers further opportunities to add interest to their food. Consumers will increasingly demand that pet food allows their pet a degree of enjoyment, fulfilling an emotional need and not just keeping them from feeling hungry.

Premium add-on options, such as seasonings, sauces, gravies or toppings, are areas of opportunity for consumers to add to their pet's dry food to create more flavour and excitement. In Switzerland, Country Selection of Food Sauce for Adult Cats contains balanced minerals, vitamin D and E, is a source of omega-6 fatty acids and features tender flakes in four different flavours.

In Thailand, Tuna Flakes with Thyme in Gravy Adult Cat Food are made from a variety of flavours to complement pet food. In Japan, Nutritious topping powder is said to be easy to feed to dogs and contains prebiotics to aid digestion.

by Pets International 

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