There’s no doubt to the fact that the pet food industry is experiencing its all time high at present. Well, nobody had an idea about this industry’s potential and can give a tough competition to other major industries. And, this boom is going on in a number of countries like India, China, Brazil etc. This is because a lot of people are adapting an ultra nuclear family structure and need pets as companions. This has largely increased the number of pets.
For example, Brazil had a dog population of 35 thousand in 2012 (source; Euromonitor). In 2016, the number rose to 52 million (source; AMINPET). Similarly, with the rise in disposable income of people, they do not hesitate spending on their beloved pets. And, thus pet food industry is on the rise. These days, pet foods range from dry foods to semi-moist, canned and wet foods. Freeze dried foods are popular too.
Descending from the wolves, dogs in their early days were carnivores. Though they have evolved to become omnivores, dogs are still found with sharp and pointed teeth. This is a common feature in canines. Similarly, their gastrointestinal tracts are better suited for meat consumption. However, they have well evolved themselves into omnivores having meat and non-meat left-over. With modernization and change in lifestyle, their food habits changed along with ours. They were now having processed commercial pet foods.
Commercial pet foods had made the life of pet parents easier as they didn’t have to prepare food for their dogs amidst their busy schedule. However, with the rise of pet anthropomorphism, these commercial pet foods are now being criticized for the use of animal by-products. Petmd says, “Processed foods contain fractionated ingredients (a process that separates the components of whole foods into smaller parts), like meat and grain “meals and by-products,” which either don’t exist in nature or are radically changed from what nature created.” And hence, the pet food industry is changing. The current trends emerging in the pet food industry are forcing the industry to change; for good.
- Pet anthropomorphism
With sharp increase in smaller families, pets have been very good companions to people these days. People in return, have started treating their pets as one of their own. Pet Statistics, released by the American Pet Association says, “Many dog owners report attachments to their dogs that are as strong as their attachments to their best friends, children, and spouses.” According to Nielsen, about 95% of Americans consider pets to be a part of their family. This means people are more concerned and aware about their dogs, their health, obesity, their food habits and whatnot. This rise in pet anthropomorphism is a trend that has shifted the entire pet food industry into a new dimension enforcing different pet food practices.
2. Humanization of Dog food
Pet parents have become very aware about the foods they are feeding their dogs. They now want to know what is good for their dogs and what might harm them. Nowadays, people have been very adamant about feeding their dogs with food they themselves can have. They are giving importance to the use of human ingredients in pet food. With Non-GMO movement on the rise, its impacts are seen in the pet food industry as well.
In a research conducted by Nielsen among 3562 French pet owners and U.S. pet owners, 74% of people chose non Genetically modified ingredients as the most healthy food choice. People now want their pets’ food to be healthy and of human grade as well. This ‘humanization of pet food’ is the latest trend in the pet food industry and has led to the abundance of a number of human grade pet foods in market. A lot of pet foods look like human foods right now and are actually human grade.
3. The natural and organic wave
The rise of use of natural and organic products have not spared the pet food industry too. Natural and organic food for pets is an ongoing trend in the pet food industry. It is a very positive sign that pet parents are being concerned about their dogs’ diet and are adapting natural and organic food products for their pets. Pet anthropomorphism has led to the rise of natural and organic pet food products. Natural and organic pet food treats like Chhurpi have gained immense popularity with the ongoing organic wave. In the above mentioned research conducted by Nielsen, 61% people chose organic ingredients to be the best food choice for their pets. Natural and organic foods like Chhurpi (hardened Himalayan Yak Cheese) are human grade and free from preservatives. Chhurpi has become a big-hit in the west as a dog treat.
4. Social media marketing
The rise of facebook is not unknown to anyone. Lately, Facebook is being widely used for marketing due to the reach it has. Facebook has 2 billion monthly active users as of 2017. Pet food manufacturers are using this opportunity to promote and market their products in a platform that has the biggest reach. Similarly, there are other Social media platforms too that are being used for marketing products. According to a report published by Blackdog Studios, 58% of companies in the American pet industry had twitter accounts. Similarly, the same report says that 62% of companies were researched in Facebook.
Social media platforms have brought all the pet food manufacturers to a common ground. Pet food companies now make strategies for social media marketing targeting the right audience. Videos and posts targeting pet-parents and pet lovers have become inevitable.
Image courtesy; https://www.facebook.com
Sustainability of the pet products has been a major concern to pet-parents these days. Sustainable products are those products that provide social, economical and environmental advantages while protecting public health and environment. This includes their production to their consumption and finally disposal. Pet parents now want products for their pet that on their way to the stores have not created any negative socio-economic impacts and upon disposal, do not create any damages to the environment.
6. Low in grain / Gluten free
A number of dogs are allergic to wheat and wheat products and some cereal grains. These wheat products and grains contain gluten and dogs, just like some of us, cannot tolerate it. This condition is known as celiac disease. Dogs who consume gluten will develop a chronic small intestinal inflammatory disease if they consume gluten. This has led to the rise of gluten free products for dogs these days. These products are somewhat expensive but it’s worth the price as you never know for sure if your dogs are allergic to gluten. According to Statista.com, in the United States the grain free food sales in 2016 was US$ 3 billion. The sale was US$ 0.9 billion in 2011.
Well, these were the major ongoing trends in the pet-food industry. With these trends in the market, the industry is bound to change. This ‘evolution’ of pet-food industry definitely is something we and our pets can be happy about. Happy pet parenting.