Examining the pet food market: approaches and alternatives

Posted: 28 December 2023 | | No comments yet

How has the landscape of the pet food industry evolved in recent years? Kate Kehoe of FMCG Gurus delves into market trends, revealing emerging demands in the current pet retail landscape.

pet food

In recent years, the pet food industry has witnessed an extraordinary transformation. Pet owners are increasingly seeking out products that align with their own health-conscious and environmentally aware dietary habits and lifestyle choices.

As the demand for natural and organic ingredients, sustainable practices and personalised nutrition continues to surge, it is evident that pet owners are more invested than ever in ensuring long-term health and wellbeing for their pets.

This article explores the world of pet food, focusing on the key trends that are shaping the pet care market, including the growing popularity of natural ingredients in pet food, the health-conscious approach of consumers when choosing food for their pets, and sustainable initiatives and choices through plant-based alternatives.

Natural ingredients in pet food

Driven by the trend of health and wellness in today’s post-pandemic world, a significant proportion of pet owners are seeking alternatives to traditional pet food options. Many consumers have become more attentive to the ingredients in such products and are seeking ingredients that they deem to be natural and organic.

FMCG Gurus’ consumer insights reveal that when seeking out health and wellness products for their pet, 45 percent of cat owners and 43 percent of dog owners consider natural ingredients an important factor. This shift reflects the increased desire from consumers to provide their pets with the same quality and nutritional benefits they seek for themselves.

Vegan pet food – what’s it all about?

Additionally, it is crucial that brands incorporate various free-from claims in pet products. For instance, FMCG Gurus’ market research illustrates that 60 percent of cat owners and 59 percent of dog owners like to see non-GMO formulation claims on pet products, as well as no artificial flavours or colours. This highlights the consumer demand for pet products without artificial additives and preservatives. Instead, owners like to see streamlined ingredient lists that they associate with a real, authentic, and back-to-basics approach to nutrition.

Integrating health-conscious approaches

During the COVID-19 pandemic, a large proportion of consumers adopted proactive approaches when addressing their health and wellness. As fear of the pandemic has passed, health remains a priority for many consumers. It is important to note that consumers are viewing health as holistic, meaning they are aware of how multiple areas of wellness are interlinked and can impact overall health.

As a result, consumers have become more attentive to the holistic health and wellbeing of their pets. FMCG Gurus’ market research illustrates that 71 percent of cat owners and 69 percent of dog owners like to see multifunctional claims on pet products. This demonstrates that pet products which carry multiple health claims are of high appeal, due to their association with maximum efficacy and convenience for owners.

While multifunctional claims are important to a large proportion of consumers, like the human health and wellness market, owners are most concerned with enhancing their pet’s digestive health. For instance, FMCG Gurus’ market research shows that 56 percent of dog owners and 54 percent of cat owners like to see digestive health claims on products. This is because consumers recognise the crucial link between good gut health and overall wellbeing.

Attitudes towards plant-based alternatives

With inadequate food supply chains, the plant-based market is more of a necessity than ever before. For instance, FMCG Gurus’ consumer insights reveals that 43 percent of global consumers are concerned about food shortages. This highlights the opportunity for the plant-based market to offer alternative protein sources amid these food shortages.

In the pet food market, one in five owners say they like to see plant-based or vegan claims on products. When asked why, 71 percent of dog owners said these products are healthier, and 60 percent of cat owners said these products are better for the environment. This creates an opportunity for pet food brands to incorporate alternative protein sources and plant-based ingredients in more pet products. However, to enhance the demand for plant-based pet products, brands must provide more reassurance over the taste and nutritional value of such products.

It seems that the zeitgeist of greater care for health and wellbeing is expanding to incorporate that of our beloved pets. Furthermore, ecologically conscientious consumers are coming to realise the environmental impact of not only their own food, but of what they feed their animals, too. As we look to sustainable sources for our own sustenance, it makes sense to search out the same for all those in our care; this trend looks set to stay.

About the author

Kate Kehoe is Marketing Executive at FMCG Gurus