Fresh Finds: 2016 Trends in Pet Food
Walk into any pet store, large or small, and you’ll undoubtedly find aisles dedicated solely to sustenance. The pet food business is booming. In fact, recent reports indicate that global pet food spending represents a $70 billion dollar industry, with the United States commanding one-third of sales, or roughly $24 billion annually. Dog food, not surprisingly, makes up the bulk of the budget, accounting for 80 percent of spending.
What does this mean for pet retailers? Quite simply that demand is great, meaning retailers must keep on top of supply – and in tune with consumer desires – in order to meet demand and exceed expectations in a competitive marketplace. With customer needs shifting as new trends arise, savvy pet retailers have abundant opportunities to expand their business as new products come to market. Staying on top of trends is the only way to get ahead of the competition. Here’s a look into today’s hot topics in the flourishing world of pet food:
- The Push for Protein: New research recently found that nearly one-third of dog owners and more than 20 percent of cat owners actively seek out “high protein” on the food packaging they purchase; 20 percent of dog owners and 14 percent of cat owners are specifically looking for “red meat as first ingredient.” What’s with the push for protein? Consumers are leaning toward real ingredients—more like those they’d eat themselves. At least some things they’d eat themselves: There’s also a growing niche market for more exotic sources of protein, including alligator, kangaroo, quail and even insect sources. Cricket, anyone?
- Healthy Ingredients, Naturally: What “farm-to-table” is to people food, “all-natural” is to pet food—an increasingly popular choice for health-conscious consumers. The buzz around healthy ingredients in meals and treats has been a boon for the industry, accounting for 69 percent of all dollar sales in the pet specialty marketplace, according to a recent study, which also points out that the natural trend is mostly a U.S. phenomenon. Natural products occupy 68 percent of shelf space in U.S. stores, compared to 34 percent in the United Kingdom. The increase in foods that promote animal wellness with fewer overall ingredients, more organic ingredients and higher protein content demonstrates that as people start to care more about what they’re putting in their own bodies, they’re increasingly conscious about what goes into their fur babies’ bodies as well.
- Pet Obesity: A Weighty Issue: Speaking of fur babies, one not-so-positive side effect of treating our pets as people is the growing trend that mirrors one in the human world: Obesity. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 53 percent of dogs and 58 percent of cats are overweight or obese. This leads to a growing niche in the market for “light” or “weight-management” foods, often for seniors and catered to cats and canines with expanding waistlines. Because obesity and weight gain lead to a number of health concerns, opportunities also arise in the marketplace for health supplements and weight-loss regimens.
These are just a few of the key trends popping up in the pet food industry – with no sign of stopping. Make sure to research and leverage the new developments that fit you and your customers best—capitalizing on what’s up and coming in pet food may give you the sales boost you’re seeking.
WPA Road Crew – On the Road in Texas
The WPA Road Crew is dedicated to visiting pet retail stores and seeing the pet industry in action. WPA representative, Shelly Armstrong, had a blast visiting Jack & Jill Pet Market while in Texas. Look out for the Road Crew in your city: you never know where they’ll pop up next!
Become a Pet Food Expert
All of these new pet food trends starting to feel daunting? Join Dr. Micah Kohles of Oxbow Animal Health at SuperZoo 2016 to become a nutrition expert with his seminar; The Expert in the Aisle: Easy Steps for Becoming an In-House Authority on Nutrition. Make sure you’re signed up for all the SuperZoo education sessions you need to stand out in 2016.