The Next Big Trend in Pet Food

An excerpt from The Next Big Trends in Pet Food by Kathleen Sturgeon

For the full article, click here.

Diet fads come and go for pets nearly as quickly as they do for their human counterparts. As science continues to learn more about our furry friends and what they need, it is crucial for companies to keep up with those trends and pivot when necessary. Whether that includes adding in more raw foods to a pet’s diet, giving them water with added vitamins or treats that are actually more beneficial than fun, pet parents are always looking for ways to keep their pets in top shape. 

As Heather Hickey, ZIWI USA’s senior vice president of sales, put it, “Our animals are dependent on us for all their nutrients, so it is important to make every bite count.”

With the seemingly endless options for our pets, it may be difficult to choose what is best for our individual furry family member. Some of the recent trends in the pet food industry include: moving toward sustainably and ethically sourced raw ingredients, humanely raised protein sources, clean, clear labelling and the early movement toward plant-based ingredients, according to Dr. Bob and Susan Goldstein, the founders of Earth Animal.

Companies can help pet parents make the best choice by providing them with scientific backing, explaining the benefits and showing them what trends won’t end up being just a fad. 

Feeding Family

During the pandemic, many people evaluated their own diet and exercise habits, with many also looking into their pets’ options. 

“These last few years while pet parents have been home during COVID, their bond with their pets has been strengthened,” Hickey says. “This bonding time has strengthened the desire to have them live long and healthy lives and has also led to consumers educating themselves on what is best for their pets and made them more willing than ever to invest in the long-term health of their pets.”

Pet nutrition is continuing to gain momentum and knowledge about the benefits of feeding a good quality diet are continuing to be more mainstream as consumers become increasingly aware of the links between their own diets and good health, according to The Honest Kitchen founder, Lucy Postins.

Pet lovers have also recently been interested in foods that serve a functional purpose, says Ernie Ambrose, director of innovation for ORIJEN and ACANA pet food. 

“They want their dog or cat to consume a complete and balanced diet full of nutrition and flavor, but also want more value, and having a food that offers specific health benefits does just that,” he says. “An example is our ACANA Indoor Entrée cat recipe, a nutritious diet brimming with protein from quality poultry ingredients that recently achieved FDA approval for hairball control due to the fiber content from oat groats, miscanthus grass, lentils, chickpeas, and lentil fiber.”

Creating custom meals for pets is another trend that Ambrose sees. 

“Pet lovers are interested in feeding a varied diet, which could be due to the perception that dogs and cats, like humans, can experience flavor-fatigue, and some simply keep mealtime interesting for their pet,” he says. “One way to achieve this is to build meals using different pet foods.”

And as the humanization trend for dogs, cats and other domesticated animals has grown significantly over the past decade, Goldstein says pet parents are focusing more on health and longevity for family animals. 

“Human nutrition trends are driving consumer decisions when it comes to nutritional choices for their family animals,” he says.

And at The Honest Kitchen, they actually focus more on human food trends and take their inspiration from the human food space, since every food they make is 100 percent human grade, Postins says.

But more than anything, Hickey says pet parents want to see results from the food they are feeding. 

“Customers are looking to solve a problem or better their pet’s health when it comes to their meals. Pet parents want their pets to be at a healthy weight, have bright eyes, and a beautiful coat with clear skin, clean ears, and great mobility.”

At the heart of it is is that the importance of an educated pet parent starts with prevention, according to Krueger. 

“Every pet parent wants their family members to be happy and healthy,” she says. “It’s much easier to support great pet health with a proper diet than it is to correct a problem after it arises. Not only can visits to the vet be costly but they are also added stress for beloved pets. By learning what their pet is missing from their diet and proactively making those changes by investing in a biologically appropriate diet, pet parents can avoid a lot of unnecessary cost for themselves and discomfort for their pets.”

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