Our team have just returned from the annual event in Orlando, that attracted some of the largest pet brands and retailers in the world.
As event organisers APPA revealed that US pet owners spent over $69.5 billion on their pets last year, more than $3 billion than the previous year, it’s clear the US has an ever-captive audience.
Amidst the 34,000 sq. ft of floor space, our team made a beeline for the product showcase zone to discover some of the very latest trends taking the industry by storm.
Humanisation of Pet Food
Humanisation is clearly dominating the pet market, with the rise of new ‘pet activities’ such as pampering products, cat cafes and dog spas to name a few. Modern pet owners are increasingly treating their pets like humans and looking for treat-based products, often even more premium than what they purchase for themselves.
Human foods are also making their way onto ingredient lists for some new pet food brands. Throughout the show, many new pet food launches included human-like characteristics, with messaging on pack intentionally appealing to the owners too.
We saw new products such as gluten-free bone broth, edible ‘flower toppers’, gingerbread biscuits and cookies, as well as freshly dried coconut snacks all designed to tempt owners to treat their furry friends.
Demand for complete transparency is a wider consumer trend influencing every industry. Transparent sourcing is now a must for pet consumers too in terms of ingredient origins, ethics and quality, with artificial additives, considered just as much of a concern in pet food as in human food.
This is especially true in premium pet foods with natural, organic, free-from claims having fuelled the market and creating wider spread saturation across all pricing segments. From smaller privately held start-ups to more mass-market retailer own-label adoption, expect to see a lot more health-related claims across pet food throughout 2018.
As the home delivery meal kit trend rocks the food world, many new businesses have spied the opportunity to use the same distribution methods for pet foods. In the UK a third of respondents in a Mintel report suggested a ‘complete meal kit’ interested a third of pet owners.
According to a report by Packaged Facts 1 in 4 American dog and cat owners, between the ages of 18-39, regularly have dog and cat food delivered to their home. As Millennials and Gen Z’s influence and buying power grows, convenient Amazon style delivery options will be crucial for brands to succeed.
Overweight pets are a growing issue and as a packaging supplier, we’ve witnessed the rise of health-focused formulas and claims on food packaging.
From Mintel’s report on the UK Pet Food sector, the rise of ‘slimming claims’ and ‘high-quality protein’ foods, although niche, was highlighted as a key product trend moving into 2018, and this could be seen as a big focus for the US market too.