Consumers are not only focused on improving their own health and health-related habits this year. They are also focused on providing the same care for their pets. Consumers are doing more research into providing the best nutritional care for their pets, co-occurring with innovations in pet supplements and “biologically appropriate” diets. The fur baby – a term indicating that pets are treated the same as children – pet food segment is booming.
Consumer Insights on Pet Food
Around one-third of pet food purchasers buy pet food every 2 to 3 weeks (30%). Brazilians are more likely to shop more frequently compared to China, Denmark, and the United States on average.
When cat or dog owners were asked which type of food they had purchased for their pet in the last year, most respondents claimed they had purchased dry food. Specifically, 76% of cat owners and 70% of dog owners bought dry food. Overall, store-bought products are more familiar to consumers.
Pet Food Purchase Influencers
Pet owners pay the most attention to the price, ingredients, and flavors their pets like when shopping for them. The leading pet food trends in claims that influence purchasing decisions are complete nutrition and product safety for cat and dog food. Consumers’ increased interest in optimizing their health has flowed over to their pets as consumers are doing more research into what goes into their pets’ food. This development could be attributed to the growing online presence of pet food nutritionists and enthusiasts who challenge classic kibble.
When asked which outlet consumers prefer when purchasing pet food, most consumers responded that they prefer pet specialty stores, apart from the US, where consumers prefer grocery stores.
Pet Food Market Size and Trends
North America represents 32% of pet food value sales, ahead of West Europe, which represents 28% of value sales. The fastest growth, however, is seen in East Europe, where sales experienced a +9.0% CAGR (2021-2023F), compared to a +5.6% CAGR globally in the same period.
The US is the largest pet food market in North America, and globally, the Philippines is seeing the fastest growth. Dog food represents the larger share of value sales in six out of eight regions.
Pet Food Trends Shaping the Category
New pet food launches recorded a CAGR of 6.8% between 2018 and 2022, with the top performing subcategory being cat and dog supplements, with a stunning 84% growth. Dog snacks and treats represented 24% of NPD activity in 2022, ahead of wet cat food NPD, which stood at 22%.
West Europe is the most active region for pet food NPD, making up 34%, followed by North America at 27%. However, recognition for the fastest growth rate of NPD goes to Africa, the Middle East, Australasia, and East Europe.
The importance of positionings, such as grain-free and protein content, varies by region. Nonetheless, innovators are mainly targeting health, packaging convenience, and ethics-related claims. As for flavors in pet food trends, animal protein flavors remain the go-to flavors for innovators in the global pet food category. Interestingly, plant-based flavors are among the fastest-growing in cat and dog food.
Trends Impact on Pet Food
Several of Innova’s top ten trends for 2023 are influencing NPD in the global pet food category. Environmental and social messaging plays a vital role in this category. Many pet owners are unwilling to compromise regarding their pet food and look for high credentials from sourcing ingredients to manufacturing.
Pet Food Ingredients Importance
A notable pet food trend is that consumers with pets are paying more attention to what is upcycled in pet food ingredients, as well as looking to see if the protein source is grass-fed or made with human-grade protein. Some consumers also say they pay attention to whether pet food is manufactured locally and whether the manufacturing process uses green energy.
Plant-Based Pet Food Trends
Pet owners often project their personal food standards into their pets’ diet, including plant-based preferences, making up one of many of today’s pet food trends. Despite cats and dogs being considered obligate carnivores, there is an increase in products using plant protein instead of animal protein. This plant-based development is also seen in an increased variety of ingredients, such as fruits and vegetables, botanicals, and nutrient-dense superfoods.
Functional Health Messaging Growth
Another interesting pet food trend is that health functionality and messaging in pet food is growing, with NPD targeting specific health needs such as urinary care in cat food. This functionality doesn’t only target an identified health issue on an individual basis as it can also apply to breed-specific care such as Royal Canin’s Maine Coon food line. Clear, on-pack information educates owners on how products improve pet health.
Globally, pet owner interest in functional health benefits and organic or all-natural pet food and treats are among key pet food trends today. However, as research and development continue, expect other innovations in this area. Sustainability and the environment are key segment themes in pet food trends, and packaging is pivotal.
A sizable number of consumers are willing to pay more for pet food packaging that is biodegradable, renewable, or sustainable. Expect further advances in this area, such as refillable and bulk buying initiatives. As inflation bites, consumer spending on pet food and treats is likely to be affected to some extent. The potential effect of inflation could trigger a response by manufacturers in NPD, e.g., more economy-adapted NPD.
This article is based on our report, “Trends in Pet Food.”
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