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Trends & Insights

Humanization of pets

No matter what product pet owners are looking for, options that speak to human interest are becoming the norm. Humanization of pets is reflected in many new product launches promoting human grade ingredients.
Banner Humanization 800X600
Banner Humanization 800X600

The supply of items you can buy for pets is beyond imagination. Soap bubbles for cats, popcorn and beer kits for dogs, swimming goggles, and plenty of wearable digital gadgets are just a few examples of items that serve to supply an apparent­ly insatiable target group of “pet parents”.

Our pets are viewed more and more as important members of the family and many pet owners refer to themselves as pet par­ents. The inclusion of dogs and cats as fully-fledged family members means that the owners are willing to spend an increasingly large part of the household income on pet products.

No matter what product pet owners are looking for, options that speak to human interest are becoming the norm. Humans are doing the buying and they are more likely to buy something they relate to or find attractive. The paradigm of humanizing pets is clearly reflected in the many new product launches of pet food products promoting human grade ingredients.

Pet food manufacturers and retailers all around the world are busy devising new product categories that appeal to pet parents and the increasing humanization of pets.

Clean, natural and premium are among the most prominent claims in dog and cat food/snacks. Millennials and subsequent generations appear more motivated by healthy living and wellness as opposed to indulgence and pampering (Innova Market Insights, 2020).

Nutritious options take the lead in cat snacks NPD

With cats regarded as part of the family, their food requirements are often similar to those for the human members, and similar positionings are used.

The desire to feed cats with nutritious options is driving NPD growth in the cat snack category (9.7 % CAGR; 2015-2019). Low-calorie treats, pure and single-ingredient snacks (pure meat sticks), launches with high herb content, playful formats, vitamin-fortified treats, grain free snacks, functional claims (eye and heart health), indulgent flavor blends (chicken and mango) and convenient packaging are among the new and versatile launches within cat snacks (Innova Market Insights, 2020).

High/source of protein is gaining prominence

Trend Cat Snacks Top5 1200X600
Top 5 health claims on cat food/treats globally (Innova Market Insights, 2020). Percentages may be greater than 100 % due to multiple positions per product.

Humanization drives premiumization of dog food and snacks

Although traditional meat and poultry flavors continue to dominate NPD within dog food, nowhere is the move towards humanization more evident than in the rising use of options traditionally associated with human foods. Premiumization and gourmet meals, organic claims, balanced and holistic nutritional claims (bone health, immunity, oral health) and innovative flavors are highlights for wet pet food launches in H1 2019.

Dry pet food follows suit with trending claims, where clean label, novel protein sources, grain free, gluten free, light formulations and options to tackle obesity are stimulating growth.

Dog snacks/treats is the leading subcategory

Human interest in snacking and the desire to transmit this craving to our pets has resulted in snacks and treats now being the leading dog food subcategory in terms of NPD, accounting for 43 % of the H1 2019 total. It is followed by wet dog food accounting for 30 % and dry pet food at 26 %. CAGR of the dog snack category is 11.1 % when looking across 2015 to 2019.

Variety of formats and textures (chewy, baked, jerkies, moist), home-style launches, innovation from small companies, probiotic claims, weight management and dental health claims and novel flavors (such as gouda cheese, nori, spirulina, chamomile) are powering growth in the dog snack category (Innova Market Insights, 2020).

The natural claim is growing

Trend Dog Snacks Top5 1200X600
Top 5 health claims on dog food/snacks globally (Innova Market Insights, 2020). Percentages may be greater than 100 % due to multiple positions per product

Wild diets and nourishing bone broth for cats and dogs

49 % of American pet owners are convinced that the best diet for a pet is a “wild diet”, i.e. a diet consisting of food that the dog or cat would be able to find if it lived in the wild. “Wild diet” is defined as an “all-meat diet” without arti­ficial additives (Mintel, 2015).

Bone broth – another emerging superfood trend – seems to be popping up in hipster cafe menus far and wide and now also in pet diets. Adding meaty bone broth as a nutritional topper to kibble, dry food, or even to raw food and snacks helps pets thrive as bone broth is a great source of amino acids and other macronutrients recognized for different health benefits.

The global top 5 claims on bone broth and soups for cats and dogs over the last 5 years are No additives/preservatives, Natural, High/Source of proteins, Gluten free, and Antioxidant. These products promote skin health, digestive/gut health, immune health, joint health and oral health (Innova Market Insights, 2020).

Bone broth/soup – a growing market

Growth NPD Broth Pets 1200X600
Annual share of global new product launches of bone broth and soup products targeted at cats and dogs from 2015 to 2019 (Innova Market Insights, 2020

Apart from contributing to a healthier diet, bone broth and soups may also be used to boost the palatability of wet and dry pet food and snacks.

If you want to know more about how you can pursue different pet food opportunities using our human grade ingredients, please contact your local Essentia sales representative or use our ingredient guide with specific focus on pets.